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I opened a bounty on a question, and after a few days have passed I've only got one answer, and it doesn't really address the question I asked. As far as I undesrtand (am I right?) when the bounty expires, the writer of this answer will be automatically rewarded. I don't think this is fair, actually I suspect he might have given an almost-empty answer just for the bounty.

Is it ethical to post my own answer, just to prevent the existing answer from getting the bounty? How would you deal with this?

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It would only be auto-awarded if it has a score of at least +2, indicating that the community thinks it's a good answer. Then why would you say it's unfair? – Arjan Mar 25 '11 at 18:40
Thanks for the comment, @Arjan. Just to clarify: I don't think the general bounty policy is unfair, I just mean that in this particular case I don't want to give my bounty to someone who replied with just 10 words that don't really answer the question. – Ilya Kogan Mar 25 '11 at 18:45
But then it would not get a score of +2? (I think the score counts; +2/-1 yields +1, hence no automatic bounty. I think.) – Arjan Mar 25 '11 at 18:45
@Ilya: you have the power to downvote. If it doesn't answer your question, downvote (and optionally leave a comment saying why). In fact, it looks like someone already downvoted it once. – CanSpice Mar 25 '11 at 18:46
@CanSpice That has nothing to do with stopping the automatic bounty award (other than possibly pushing it under +2) – Michael Mrozek Mar 25 '11 at 18:47
(Also, some say bounty questions get most attention in the last days. More answers might still be posted...) – Arjan Mar 25 '11 at 18:47
@Michael: It makes it less likely that the question would hit the +2 auto-bounty threshold though. – CanSpice Mar 25 '11 at 18:48
I set out a META-BOUNTY for this question, as I think this is really a flaw in the stack-exchange sites :-) – Lukas Eder May 10 '11 at 11:36
I have a similar one. The well-meaning person akcnowledged up front that it wasn't an answer, and posted a link to the solution for an entirely unrelated issue. No one else responded; someone voted in the two point minimum, and I don't have the points to down-vote. – WGroleau Sep 18 '13 at 13:51
When I posted the bounty, I was not aware of the automatic feature. I posted requirements for the award (again, being unfamiliar with the process). Since the "answer" wasn't really an answer, it couldn't meet the requirement that it "actually work." So, I could create a bogus account, vote my reall account up to 125, and then down-vote the non-answer--if I weren't both too honest and too lazy. Someone said I could flag it for a moderator to convert to a comment, but I can't find the "flag it" button. – WGroleau Sep 18 '13 at 14:12

I assume this is the question you are referring to. In this particular case, the answer that user added isn't really an answer. It belongs as a comment, and I have flagged it as such for the moderators to take a look at.

In a more general sense, you always have the option to downvote a bad answer and/or leave comments as to why it doesn't work. However, if the rest of the community feels it is a good answer and upvotes it enough (so that it has a total score of at least 2), then it will automatically get awarded the bounty.

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Thanks for the support :) – Ilya Kogan Mar 25 '11 at 18:49
I agree that the community should be able to award bounties after a while. But downvotes are very rare around here, and people get pissed if they are downvoted, even if the downvote is understandable. Downvotes/Upvotes are not relevant enough for automatic awards of bounties, in my opinion – Lukas Eder May 10 '11 at 11:35
Looking at the comments on the eventually accepted answer it seems the OP could have done with the bounty being auto awarded in this case! – Martin Smith May 10 '11 at 11:46
@Martin, the bounty wouldn't have been auto-awarded anyway in this case, because at the time that the bounty expired, no answer had 2 votes. Anyway, ckeller only answered the question a few hours before the bounty expired, so it didn't have two votes yet at the time of the bounty expiration. At the time that I posted this question on Meta, the only answer was an almost empty and unhelpful answer (maybe Hadi's, I'm not sure), and it had been voted up at least once. – Ilya Kogan May 12 '11 at 9:37
@Ilya - I realise that from the fact that it wasn't. If anything the eventual result (satisfactory answer but answered not rewarded) would be an argument for making more auto bounty awards rather than less though surely? – Martin Smith May 12 '11 at 10:00
@Martin - There is no automatic way to know which answer is good, and as you can see from Lukas's example, even 3 upvotes are not enough for an answer to be helpful. The power should be in the hands of the OP. So what this would be an argument for, is for letting the OP award a bounty even after the bounty period has expired if no answer has reached the minimum required upvotes yet. – Ilya Kogan May 12 '11 at 13:22
@Ilya - True. Unless the bounty owner is going to be guaranteed online when it expires I guess there's always the possibility that a good late answer might come in and be unrewarded with the current system. – Martin Smith May 12 '11 at 13:24

Moderators can (now?) remove a bounty and refund the reputation back to the user which opened the bounty. You could flag the question for moderator attention, explaining your reasons and ask the moderators to do this. One issue I can see here is that might be seen as unfair to other people which did not got any answer and so the bounty reputations simply vanished.

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I think this is bad advice. True, in extreme cases, moderators can be asked for a refund. But: only in very rare cases. – Arjan May 13 '11 at 15:18
Can I also ask moderators for an increase of deadline? I.e. instead of 7 days without really satisfying answer, I get another 7 days? – Lukas Eder May 14 '11 at 21:06
@Lukas: No, but refunding and replacing the bounty would to this. – Martin Scharrer May 14 '11 at 21:24

I agree with this. The limit of 2 is really really low. I have this question here, and in order to prevent the awarded answer from receiving an automatic bounty, I downvoted it. Also, because it really didn't answer my question at all and was thus not useful. But it looks that the answerer got pity upvotes because the guy made an effort, which I would have honoured too, if it wasn't for the automatic bounty he'd get.

So now, the second answer which is going the right direction and might even lead to an accepted answer will never be awarded.

This happened to me every time I set out a bounty on difficult questions. I hardly ever got 100% satisfying answers, because sometimes they are too difficult to answer in 1 week. But the automatic bounty was always awarded to some bounty-hunter.

I think instead of automatically awarding bounties to answers with 2+ upvotes, there should be a vote cast by users with -say- 5000+ reputation, and 5 votes in favor of an answer will award the bounty.

BTW: I set out a META-BOUNTY for this question, as I think this is really a flaw in the stack-exchange sites :-)

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Haha, was that downvote to keep me from getting the bounty? A meta-downvote ? – Lukas Eder May 10 '11 at 11:45
Unlikely, since you're not eligible for an auto-award of your own bounty. – mmyers May 10 '11 at 15:05
No? I can see the [+50] button... – Lukas Eder May 10 '11 at 15:21
After some research (mainly by Grace Note), it turns out I was wrong. – mmyers May 10 '11 at 15:33
@Lukas: If you were so worried about a less-helpful answer getting awarded the bounty over a more-helpful answer, you could have just awarded the bounty manually to the more-helpful answer! There was no reason to let it get auto-awarded. Even if the better answer didn't fully answer your question at the time, you could have still awarded it the bounty yourself for being the more helpful answer. – gnostradamus May 10 '11 at 16:41
Dude, well, I wasn't online 24/7 just for the sake of purity of bounty awards... If you know what I mean ;-) – Lukas Eder May 10 '11 at 20:55
Can't award the bounty to a different response if there is no other response. (Notice I didn't say "answer"?) – WGroleau Sep 18 '13 at 13:54

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