This post is based on this thread.
I am not for nor against of auto-accepting bounties. Both sides have their advantages and weaknesses.
I see that the main weakness in the bounty system is its implicit acceptance of an answer with most votes.
If the system auto-selects something, it should inform the user that the answer with most upvotes will be accepted by the system in a given time. The system only informs the user at the moment that
[your bounty is going to expire in a given period]
I propose to change this to
[the given answer will get the Bounty on your question in a given period]
which in practice may be
VonC's answer may get your bounty on "To fix a bug in OS X Screen" in 10 hours
This would remind me, for instance, that the answer of the person, who has great skills in Screen/Git, has some flaws before I can accept it. I may then choose either to add comments to the answer or to edit it to fix minor mistakes which were initially confusing.
My aim is to decrease the number of similar answers such that people improve more confusing parts and typos in the existing answers with great ideas. This can be done either by comments or directly. The indication of the username with most upvotes in the notifications would
- give credits to the right person if the answer is excellent by advertising the username
- encourage me to fix confusing parts in the excellent answer which I did not understand the last night
- encourage me to add an own answer if the user with a bad answer is going to be accepted
There are sometimes three other problems which you need to solve before you can understand the answer.
For instance, I needed to study Screen, OS X's internals and Vim's internals in trying to understand one answer to my question about a bug in OS X's Terminal.app with Screen. It took me 3 days to study the basic functions and terms before I could get an insight to the answer. I finally forgot the whole question for a month, since the problem opened other problems which I needed to fix first. The following presents how similar problems can be minimized.
I see the message which informs you the expiration of your bounty rather annoying at the moment. I do not pay attention to it if I need to solve other problems related to my bounty first. It would be much more useful if it reminded me about the current top-voted answer. This would help me in prioritizing my time more efficiently.
Please, make the auto-selection of bounties more explicit.