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I don't want that default to be visible to anybody but me. I just want to set who gets the bounty when it expires if I don't change my mind. Currently the system picks a winner if you don't pick one based on some criteria that makes sense, but can also result in the wrong person getting it.

Bounties are basically an auction. You are offering up a certain number of points to award a response. You want to award those points to the best response (offer) before the time expires.

So, given that they are an auction, I would like a way to nominate the highest bidder at any given point in time. This saves me from having to go back just before the bounty expires and picking the best answer available. I can then change who I've nominated at any time before the bounty expires.

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I forsee a lot of "Hey, I only meant to award that provisionally, now I can't take it back even though a better answer came along!" MSO posts. –  Pops Nov 6 '10 at 21:23
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@Popular Demand - What's the difference between those and "It auto-awarded the bounty to an answer I didn't like, how do I fix it?" posts? –  Omnifarious Nov 6 '10 at 21:25
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4 Answers

This would probably cause a massive amount of confusion, users would have huge difficulties understanding the difference between "provisional" and "award".

I think it is not much of a big ask for the person awarding the bounty, to revisit the question on day 7, read through the comments and answers and make a call.

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Wow. Users must be pretty stupid. –  aaronasterling Nov 6 '10 at 21:54
    
@aaronasterling keep in mind Stack Exchange is not only targeted at the technically savvy , complexity is our enemy –  waffles Nov 8 '10 at 0:45
    
Do you think that the new wording of 'default' instead of 'provisional' makes it simpler? It's two less syllables and so probably 4 times as likely to be understood. Also, it strikes me as more of a conceptual issue than a technical one. –  aaronasterling Nov 8 '10 at 12:44
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@aaronasterling: the trick is that users of software (ourselves included) don't try to fully understand something before using it -- they're quite task-oriented, so something that looks like what they want but isn't can be a big problem. In this case it's probably not a big deal, mostly because the eventual outcome of the "default" choice is very similar to the immediate outcome of the "award" choice. –  theazureshadow Aug 11 '11 at 3:53
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Even the bounty message agrees this is awkward from a UX perspective. The problem here is it makes the bounty all about the offerer. Bounties help you get better answers, but to do that they have to actually be motivating for askers.

Having a default bounty is basically a spit in the face to the "best voted new answer" rule meaning if the bountier doesn't get around to making your new, awesome answer, you're screwed; they set a default anyway. This is a great way to discourage the very people who could be answering your question.

This is asking for a lot of frustration just so a bountier can be lazy. If you're going to offer a bounty, it's implied you actually care enough about the answers to read them and award the bounty, plus there's already two system generated reminders per bounty to remind you. If you can't be bothered to check on the answers, the bounty should be automatically awarded like it is now.

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I care enough to check the answers, which is why I selected a default. I think the bounty creator is already putting enough on the line with all the points they spend. And, besides, I don't know that it helps the system at all for an arbitrary system-defined default to exist as opposed to a user chosen default. I am always a bit annoyed to have to award the bounty before the time expires, even though I often refresh frequently just before that time. –  Omnifarious Jun 28 '12 at 14:06
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"arbitrary system-defined default" - I'd think not. Not arbitrary at all... The system will only choose an answer with at least 2 upvotes... –  Lix Jun 28 '12 at 14:19
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You can always promise to set a bounty of a certain size for a usable answer to your question.

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But then the question doesn't show up on the 'featured questions' list, which is one of the main reasons to award a bounty. –  Omnifarious Nov 7 '10 at 0:44
    
@Omnifarious well, you can't have the cake and eat it, too. You can start a bounty and award it to an answer of your own. If none of the answers is satisfactory, that is perfectly acceptable practice. You lose the reputation either way - look at it as the price for the increased attention your question received –  Pëkka Nov 7 '10 at 8:30
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@Pekka - I don't understand. I don't expect any points back or anything. I just want to set who will get the bounty when the time expires instead of having the system choose based on whatever criteria it uses. This lets me pick the current 'winning' question and then change my mind later if someone gives a new answer that's better, at least if they give it before the bounty expires. –  Omnifarious Nov 7 '10 at 12:28
    
@Omnifarious ahh, I see! But then you should reword your question accordingly: What you want to do is just select a default "winner" for the auto-accept mechanism. A good idea, +1. –  Pëkka Nov 7 '10 at 12:32
    
@Pekka - Well, I made the attempt. I hope the new wording is better. :-) –  Omnifarious Nov 7 '10 at 21:16
    
@Omni sounds good to me. –  Pëkka Nov 7 '10 at 21:16
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This is a great suggestion.

It is very frustrating to find out that the bounty has been given to the wrong answer, only because the bounty giver didn't pay enough attention to it. It happened to me a few times: I was in a meeting, or concentrated in a complex piece of code, and -poof!- the bounty was awarded to the top-rated answer which was popular, simple, neat, and wrong.

This is worsened by the fact that the bounty gets the most attention in the last few hours before it expires, which makes it harder to set a winner more than, say, 30 minutes in advance.

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"the bounty giver didn't pay enough attention to it" - case closed. If you care enough to offer a bounty then you should pay more attention to the post. –  Lix Jun 28 '12 at 12:51
    
Do you expect the bounty giver to stay tuned to his question duringthe last 60 minutes? It's not always possible. –  Adam Matan Jun 28 '12 at 13:24
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The bounty giver needs to be aware that today is the last day he has to award a bounty - if he knows that he's not going to be next to a computer then he'll need to take action on the bounty. I expect the person who offers the bounty to care enough to stay tuned to his post - yes... –  Lix Jun 28 '12 at 13:27
    
I can't see why giving the bounty giver the ability to set the winner in advance is more problematic than the current criterion. –  Adam Matan Jun 28 '12 at 13:59
    
@Lix - I find your assumptions insulting. I generally end up awarding the bounty to myself because nobody managed to come up with a decent answer. And I generally constantly refresh just before the bounty expires and end up awarding an hour or 5 early anyway just because I'm worried I'll miss it and the top-rated (and wrong) answer will be chosen because I will miss out on the last second. If I didn't care, I wouldn't be shaving the points off my reputation in the first place. –  Omnifarious Jun 28 '12 at 14:22
    
@omn - "awarding the bounty to myself" - How exactly are you doing this? –  Lix Jun 28 '12 at 14:24
    
@omn - I mean no offence... Just voicing my opinions.... –  Lix Jun 28 '12 at 14:24
    
@Lix - By answering the question with the best answer I have so far and awarding the bounty to that answer. I don't get the bounty award that way. The points piffle off into nothingness. If I could set a default, I would actually be much more prone to checking and checking again just before the bounty expired because I would be so hoping for a better answer. –  Omnifarious Jun 28 '12 at 14:32
    
There's a 24 hour grace period. I've been in long meetings, but that long? –  Arjan Jun 28 '12 at 15:59
    
@Arjan - A 24 hour grace period basically amounts to a 24-hour extension on the bounty unless you turn off voting, answer editing and new answers for that period. –  Omnifarious Jun 28 '12 at 16:09
    
I don't understand what you're saying. The system explicitly gives you 24 hours before it auto-accepts, and it will never auto-accept answers posted outside the bounty period. You're in full control. –  Arjan Jun 28 '12 at 16:32
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Ah, @Omnifarious, I guess I understand where the confusion is coming from: 3 of your 4 offered bounties are old, and you missed some of the changes. Since June 2011 there's a 24 hour grace period. And since July 2011 you can no longer award a (zero-rep) bounty to your answer. –  Arjan Jun 28 '12 at 17:09
    
@Arjan - The zero-rep bounty thingy is an awful change. I will never offer a bounty again. –  Omnifarious Jun 29 '12 at 3:14
    
@Arjan - The point is, unless the ability to add new answers or edit answer is turned off during the grace period, then it's in my interests to wait until the very end of the grace period in the hopes a new good answer shows up. Turning off voting is actually not important. –  Omnifarious Jun 29 '12 at 3:21
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Note that during the grace period, questions are no longer listed in the featured list, @Omnifarious. As far as the system is concerned, the bounty is over. –  Arjan Jun 29 '12 at 5:09
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