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Often more than one person contributes to the community coming up with the final accepted answer to a question. However, it is only possible to accept a single answer. Restricting to one final answer does make sense for the sake of referencing that answer later, but in many cases that answer is the product of the input from several individuals. I would like to be able to decide how much of a bounty goes to different users, or some other mechanism to recognize the contribution of multiple users. Of course I could always upvote their previous answers, but this is really incorrect if their previous answers aren't the complete, final answer I've accepted.

What think you metaSOrs?

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There is a way of doing what you want. The question is to take the risk of the site silently undoing your deeds? –  kd304 Jul 20 '09 at 16:17
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6 Answers

up vote 23 down vote accepted

The goal isn't to have multiple answers each containing a piece of the puzzle. It's to have a single, correct, comprehensive answer. Bounty provides a means of encouraging answers to tough problems by offering a reward: allowing you to subdivide this reward creates a situation where you're misleading those participating (who think they're competing for a big prize but only receive a portion of it) and potentially discouraging users from taking the time to write a complete answer.

In short, i think it's a terrible idea. Good, useful answers will be rewarded, by the voters who find them good and useful. If you aren't comfortable with the "winner takes all" bounty system, then just don't use it - there's no requirement that you do so ever.

See also:

Why Isn’t There a Way to Consolidate Answers?

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hmmm ... where do you stand on this these days ? –  waffles Aug 30 '11 at 3:35
I still think it's a lousy idea. –  Shog9 Sep 1 '11 at 14:40
...as Pop Demand notes, the current bounty system allows for one to offer multiple bounties on a single question (though there are some caveats to this) - if multiple, excellent answers are received in response to one, a second bounty could be offered and rewarded to another without depriving the first of the reward that was offered. –  Shog9 Mar 16 '13 at 4:18
I requested this feature for cogsci.SE and your answer was posted as the current official stance. I disagree with that answer, because cogsci is different than Stackoverflow: on Stackoverflow each answer can be complete and still differ from all others; on cogsci no answer short of a dissertation will ever be "comprehensive". And if someone posts an answer before you, yours can only be inclusive by stealing the effort of another's research. So for cogsci a splitable bounty makes total sense. meta.cogsci.stackexchange.com/questions/708/… –  what Sep 18 '13 at 19:18
Nothing stops you from up-voting multiple useful answers, @what. I gotta ask though, why are you offering a bounty? –  Shog9 Sep 18 '13 at 19:27
To award increased, non-average effort. Answers on cogsci are considered best when they provide peer-reviewed journal articles. Most questions cannot be answered by most users from what they know, almost all of us have to do some research to find the answer, and this often takes quite a lot of time. Usually when there is one answer, no-one feels they need to provide a second one, because it seems like the effort has already been done. But different research might bring up different sources and perspective, all of them equally valid. Often there is no final answer, because science is openended. –  what Sep 18 '13 at 19:35
Perhaps then, @what, this system is a poor fit for the types of questions you're hoping to find answers for? –  Shog9 Sep 18 '13 at 19:39
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Now that bounties are no longer tied to the answer acceptance system, it is possible to offer multiple bounties on the same question and award them to different answers.

Note that I agree with Shog about this not being a good idea. But your question was about whether it was possible, and the answer to that is now "yeah, kinda."

As ymar notes in the comments, this approach is less useful now than it was when I suggested it. As of September 2011, repeated bounties on the same question by the same user "cost more."

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Unfortunately this possibility is very limited. Please take a look here. –  ymar May 3 '12 at 9:11
@ymar, edited, thanks for the assist. –  Pops May 3 '12 at 15:16
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I think this is a good idea, because when you ask a question you have no idea who many answers there will be. Also there is a period where you have to wait until you can offer another bounty.

Another thing, there may be 2 answers that give the same technical answer but explain it in different ways, you understand one answer slightly better, but to someone else the other answer is easier to understand. And it's been said before the SO is more about being able to find answers through search engines, months after the question has been asked.

Also one answer may reference another answer and then build upon it. It would be inefficient, and create clutter if when you reference another answer you have to basically quote the entire thing. Also it's not fair on the person whose answer was built upon.

Getting an answer to a question is not just looking at one Answer segment but looking at all of them.

You should be able to set a bounty of say 200, and then give up to 200 reputation to a combination of answers.

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I asked about answers having multiple contributors. That would keep the accepted-answer down to 1, but offer the original author the ability to share some of the booty with his helpers.

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Yes the more I think about it, the accepted answer would have to stay 1, but it would be nice to be able to either allow the original question author or the author of the accepted answer to split the bounty amongst the contributors. –  defines Jul 6 '09 at 15:58
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The ability to accept multiple answers alone would require a pretty sizable change to the underlying concept of the StackOverflow mechanism.

If it weren't for the way bounties are currently decided when there is no accepted answer (i.e. the winner is the one with the most votes after the time limit) then I would agree with you.

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Splitting a bounty seems unfair to me.

A possible solution is to allow users to award the whole bounty to multiple users at once, if my current reputation allows that. Please see these two questions on meta.math.SE:

Why can't I offer a bounty of less than 500 reputation?

Giving a bounty to several answers at once.

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