I've got some questions that I'm thinking about putting bounties on. I was wondering if other users felt that added a bounty improved the quality of the answers they were getting.
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Hell no, I would prefer a big fat stack of waffles.
The feature, for me, has mostly been a FAIL with one exception:
This is a FAIL, turns out the selected answer is really unstable. I have had nothing but trouble with DXCore. Will be really easy to do this in VS 2010 or just fork out the money and buy ReSharper. The problem answer is now selected and marked true FOREVER.
Again a FAIL . Got lots of attention, I kind of felt I had to select something as an answer, and now when the magical well supported key value store for .net pops up I will have trouble fixing it. Lots of ideas, all had their issue, none was a perfect fit.
Success, something about this question made it a really good fit for bounties, it had fantastic constraints, measuring the success of the answer was really easy - no grey areas. If you have questions like this they are good for bounties provided you get an answer.
FAIL Got a useless answer, but felt compelled to mark it as correct cause of the amount of effort that went in. Basically to use it I must comply with GPL AND run my app as Admin something that is not an option. A socket based solution is possible and one day when I have a free weekend I will write it.
Bottom line, if you are looking for someone to spend 2 days and write a custom implementation for a specific problem you are having, do not use bounties. If its simple / clear-cut and just needs a bit more attention ... go for it, a bounty may help. But the correct answer set in stone forever leaves a very bad taste.
I tried it once and got nowhere.
But then, my goal was to get someone else to delve into an obscure and under-documented Microsoft API, make it do something very specific, and then show me the code (or at least warn me about all the time-consuming dead-ends normally encountered when dealing with such a task)...
In other words, I hoped to bribe someone (with worthless reputation points) to perform a dull, tedious, and probably infuriating task that I was too lazy to do myself. A reader would have to have been pretty desperate to bite.
Presumably if you have a normal question (one that can be answered without many hours of drudgery) then a bounty would help to garner extra attention and perhaps tease more comprehensive answers out of those responding.
I haven't been around all that long, but my limited experience is that bounties didn't have any effect. From the looks of it, there are many hungry, hungry, hippos anxious to answer any question. There's so much competition for rep out there that people are willing to type their fingers to the bone just for vanilla upvotes and accepts. I'm sure more experienced residents can offer more perspective.
Not all the time. If the question is unsolvable (like finding a way to get a broken API to work) then you're likely to still be out of luck.
Yes and no. The problem for me is that I've added bounty to those questions where there is no good solution - hoping for the mythical student to solve the 'homework' problem that was actually an example of an unsolvable problem.
So I haven't hit the jackpot, so to speak.
However, the questions I've added bounty to have received much greater exposure, more interesting and varied responses, and all things considered were well worth the bounty I paid for them.
Also, notably, most of them were upvoted enough after adding the bounty to pay for a large portion of the bounty, so it wasn't as high a cost as it might otherwise have been.
However, I do not use bounty for those questions where I'm not already prepared to select a suboptimal answer, and in cases where no answer is 'right' I'll choose the one that is closest and where the author has obviously spent some time answering it.
But I have found that when I offer a very large bounty (500 of my own rep, for instance) a lot of people will put significant effort into the problem. There are lots of 100-200 rep bounties, but one can get 100-200 guaranteed rep in a day of answering other questions, whereas a 100-200 rep bounty is more risky, and the work required is greater than the work required to get the same rep the usual way. A 550 rep 'lottery' however, is something, for many people, worth working on, especially since it's 25% of editing rep, 13% of closing rep, and even the 5% closer to 10k moderator status is significant for many users.
But the bounty system serves one very, very important purpose - people have stopped asking for a bounty feature! It was one of the hottest feature requests early on - people really wanted a way to 'spend' their rep to 'enhance' their questions.
I took the warnings from the other answers, but I tried it anyway. It was a fairly narrow topic and I did get one additional answer, but it wasn't the answer I wound up picking. So the bounty didn't really help.
The only upside is that because the question was on the featured list for a few days, I did get an additional up vote, which offset the cost of the bounty.