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From the look of it, my question is not going to be answered within 3 days. If an answer even exists, no one knows of it. I'd like the question to remain unanswered until a solution comes along (maybe months from now), but the bounty process is going to force someone's answer to be accepted even though none of them are right. Is there any way for me to change the accepted answer later? Is there any way around the automatic accept?

This is one of the major stupidities of Yahoo Answers, where completely idiotic answers get chosen as the Best just because they got a single vote, and I'm dismayed to find out it exists here, too.

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There has to be two up-votes for an answer to be automatically accepted. –  Brad Gilbert Nov 3 '09 at 4:37
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not just that, but the answers must be created after the bounty started. So there are two rules. The /faq explains all. –  Jeff Atwood Nov 3 '09 at 5:55
    
I suppose one possible workaround would be to answer the question yourself by saying "No best answer", and then choose it as the accepted answer before the time limit? –  endolith Nov 9 '09 at 17:01
    
The linked question is a perfect example. I voted up the complex "udev scripts" answer because it was the most detailed, it worked for the answerer, and had the most work put into it. But in reality, it didn't work for me, and later I used a much simpler "duh" solution of setting the computer to auto-login. The "winning" answerer doesn't even use their own method, adding a different one after the bounty expired. Because of the way the bounty system works, I can never change the "accepted" answer to the one I really use, so visitors to the page will think the script method is the only one. –  endolith Nov 21 '09 at 17:11
    
A better solution would be bounties that don't expire, and aren't auto-accepted after only 2 votes. –  endolith Nov 21 '09 at 17:17

3 Answers 3

If any of the answers added since the bounty started are voted at least +2, then an answer will be automatically selected. If all new posts are 1 or lower, then no answer will be selected.

In any case, if you don't choose an answer in the time allotted, you will not be able to accept an answer ever again for that question.

The bounty system exists to bring additional attention to your question, it does not guarantee you will receive a better answer. Once you chose to start a bounty you locked your question into the bounty path, and you consequently limited your overall options, with the reward of a little extra attention. This path is designed to prevent gaming the rep system, so the restrictions are a necessary evil. If they are too troublesome, then a bounty might not be the best way to attract attention to your question.

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"The bounty system exists to bring additional attention to your question, it does not guarantee you will receive a better answer." Then why does it accept one? It is not a "necessary evil". It's a poor design. –  endolith Nov 4 '09 at 12:47
    
It forces you to accept an answer because the bounty is a promise to the people answering that as long as their new answer gets voted up a little bit at least one answer will be accepted. Otherwise the incentive decreases, expescially for those users with low acceptance rates. You'll end up cluttering the "featured questions" with questions where people have no intention of selecting an answer, or may be too busy to accept one. It's not poor design, it's a necessary evil to avoid gaming. –  Adam Davis Nov 4 '09 at 16:12
    
Regardless, if you have a better solution please post it as a feature request. It might save you time if you go through all the previous bounty related questions so you can better understand why it is designed this way. Keep in mind, however, that under no circumstances will anyone be forced to use bounty for their questions - it's completely voluntary. –  Adam Davis Nov 4 '09 at 16:14
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Bringing my question to the attention of people only interested in earning a bounty, is not useful and can be detrimental. –  user138345 Nov 9 '09 at 2:51
    
Saying "bounty is voluntary" doesn't fix the problem. There's nothing at all wrong with the idea of exchanging reputation for more visibility and a higher-quality answer. There is something very wrong with forcing the user to accept a permanently locked-in answer even if they're all horrible. You seem to think the two are unavoidably intertwined. –  endolith Nov 9 '09 at 16:30

Have read the FAQ, can't understand how automatic awards benefit anyone. Since the answer is automatically accepted, people browsing through and reading the question later may believe--incorrectly--that the selected answer is the "right" answer, when in fact it may have simply been the only one after the bounty was given. It makes it impossible to know the quality of the answer.

Allowing the questioner to select the answer that met their needs, and answered their question, is the only way to guarantee quality answers.

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All readers are completely incapable of critical thought? All readers agree with what you thought was the correct answer? Have you met any of your fellow programmers? I'm just sayin'. Truth is relative, and anyone who believes otherwise, I got this bridge I'd like you to take a look at... –  Jeff Atwood Nov 9 '09 at 4:46
    
So you see absolutely nothing wrong with marking an erroneous answer as "accepted", and relying purely on the reader's "critical thinking" to notice the problem? –  endolith Nov 9 '09 at 16:27
    
And StackExchange is not used purely by computer programmers. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4/list-of-stackexchange-sites –  endolith Nov 9 '09 at 16:28
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What does "Accepted" mean on Stack Overflow? To me, it means an adequate, satisfactory and appropriate answer. Obviously there is some different nuance here which I would like to understand. –  user138345 Nov 11 '09 at 2:51
    
Apologies -- my previous message can be read as snarky, but it isn't. I'm genuinely trying to understand the intent of the feature, which its creator obviously thinks is different than I apparently incorrectly supposed it to be. –  user138345 Nov 11 '09 at 2:54
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Jeff, re-reading your comment may have shown me where my thinking diverged. On a Q&A site, my assumption is that the people asking questions do not necessarily have the background necessary to be able to sift the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. That's the reason they have the need to ask. The critical thinking which is needed to determine the correctness of the various answers depends in large part on having sufficient background in the subject to be able to accurately discern their respective value. Shouldn't reputation earned be relative to one's answers' relevance to the question? –  user138345 Nov 11 '09 at 3:03

the bounty process is going to force someone's answer to be accepted even though none of them are right. Is there any way for me to change the accepted answer later? Is there any way around the automatic accept?

Not true. Have you read the faq?

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What part of his statement isn't true? He only had one statement, "the bounty process is going to force someone's answer to be accepted even though none of them are right." Presuming he knows that none of them are right (which is his perogative), his sentence is quite true (because he has answers posted after the bounty that have been upvoted twice). –  beska Nov 3 '09 at 19:58
    
Of course I've read the FAQ. How else would I know how poorly implemented this is? –  endolith Nov 4 '09 at 12:45

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