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I have had, a couple of times, encountered a situation where I asked a question whose answer I wanted to know but didn't consider critical enough to attach a bounty to.

Yet, in the process of answering, someone's answer not only was the best, but actually taught me information greatly more valuable than i anticipated to arise from that question.

As an example: in a question on pros/cons of using exceptions as constructor error handlers in Perl; one of the answers actually taught me the first significant new fact about Perl I learned since beginning of the year [that somehow I missed out on the fact that die can throw an entire object and not just a string since I almost never used die in my many years of Perl development. I know - shame on me]).

That answer, IMHO, deserved a lot more than 25 rep points I could give - I'd have gladly given a post-factum bounty to the person who provided this insight.

So the questions are:

  • is there such a mechanism on SO?

  • If no, do you consider it a good idea to add?

  • If good idea, how easy/difficult would it be?


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up vote 8 down vote accepted

It's possible for you to:

  1. Accept an answer
  2. Take it back
  3. Boot up a bounty on the question
  4. Re-award the original accepted answer, now with bountyliciousness.

If you take a look at the question Looking for a free/cheap Exchange Account Provider on Super User, this is exactly what has happened.

Congratulations, you were the recipient of me testing the bounty system. You were the original check mark recipient, but I took it away to place the bounty, and then gave the check back, so you walked away with some extra rep today.

All up it pretty much is a play for something like a super-upvote that way.

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excellent point. And also, this is why accepts get LOCKED once bounty is in play. – Jeff Atwood Oct 15 '09 at 2:00

This is effectively completed, because

  • bounty system is no longer tied to accepting an answer in any way
  • you can issue multiple bounties on your question if necessary

How about making it possible to set up bounty on someone else's question?

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I think this is actually asking for an unbound "reputation sacrifice" feature which I am kind of against. – waffles Oct 15 '09 at 0:01

Rep sacrifice opens up the system to huge risk of gaming. Policing it would be a very difficult task.

In your case the problem was solved, the person who solved the problem got a reward and the system is nice and clean, no need to do any more.

I find the reverse problem a lot more interesting and worthy of a scheme along what you were described, Eg. if there is a messy question or long standing conundrum I may want to sacrifice some of my rep to help solve that problem. This also opens up the system to more gaming, but if designed properly may result in helping with the information rot.


In your particular case it may be possible to unaccept the answer. Add a bounty and then accept the original one, it is border line gaming though.

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I didn't realize that you can add a bounty to bountiless question later on. If so, I think this answers my question. – DVK Oct 15 '09 at 0:15

I like this idea. I'd like to be able to say thank you when someone provides a very valuable answer. While I can appreciate the current design of the bounty system, for some questions I can't say that I would expect to get a good, solid answer. Some questions would require a good bit of work to answer, and take more effort than the rep I'm willing to sacrifice on a gamble.

Take for instance this question of mine about BouncyCastle. I got one answer that took a stab at the problem, but with only 4 google hits on a relevant search, and the fact that I can't hand other people access to the system in question, I really don't expect to get a real answer here. I could throw out a bounty for it, but then, I'm forced to accept an answer that didn't really answer the question, and when I get back to solving the problem and post the real answer, I can't mark it as such. I will get this issue solved at some point, so I don't want to accept an answer that doesn't solve it.

Now, if someone does hand me the answer on a silver platter, after I pick myself up off the floor, I'll give them a heart-felt thank you, and gladly hand 'em a chunk of rep as a (in?)tangible expression of that.

The 'set a bounty, then immediately accept the answer' will work currently, but my concern is that, like changing up/down votes, more constraints may be placed on that in the future that break this use case if it isn't considered as part of the design.

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