I would like feedback on this suggestion for a bonus to late-but-accepted answers:

If an answer is provided a certain amount of time after a question was asked, then it should be eligible for a small bonus.

Though the lengths of time required, bonus amounts, and number of bonus thresholds can be adjusted, my thoughts are that it should be fairly low (1-5 pts) with mid-term time requirements, and few levels.

Threshold#    Time after question    Bonus   Total Pts
----------    -------------------    -----   ---------
 0              0 seconds              0      15 (Standard)
 1             12 hours                5      20
 2              7 days                10      25
 3?             3 months              15      30


Another scheme, a little bit more reserved, to discourage people digging through really old questions (which the OP doesn't care about) could be more like this:

Threshold#    Time after question    Bonus   Total Pts
----------    -------------------    -----   ---------
 0              0   seconds           0      15 (Standard)
 1              4-6 hours (?)         2      17
 2              1   day               5      20

Note: the aspect of digging through old, not-cared-about-questions, I believe, would be mostly self-regulating. If the OP does not care about it, or it's no longer useful to them, they will not review the old questions as often or ever, and the people digging through the archives will not get any bonus. The question in my mind is where to set the balance of question age vs. bonus amount (including the number of thresholds)


I had originally thought of slightly shorter time periods, but decided to extend them somewhat after a bit of feedback. This bonus would only be applied to an accepted answer, and would still be subject to (correction) the 200/day rep limit (on the day of acceptance, as I believe it currently is) and the current techniques used to limit abuse of the system by a single person with multiple accounts/computers, etc.

Other points and alternatives:

  1. The bonus would not be dependent upon the time the answer was selected, but rather the time the answer was posted (except that it cannot be accepted until after it is posted, of course)
  2. The bonus would most likely be removed if another answer is accepted instead (removing the bonus for de-accepted answers would be sensible and fairly logical, as well as easier to program, by attaching it to the answer, not the user or the question)
  3. Alternative: the bonus might only be available if there were no answers before the threshold (i.e. NO ANSWERS before 12 hours, the question gets a tiny bonus, which is only available if the answer is accepted)
  4. Alternative: the bonus might only be available to the first person to answer after each threshold

Arguments received so far are basically that:

  1. There is already enough interest in unanswered questions (I think there is room for a small shift towards answering older questions, without causing any sort of landslide, and I believe a small bonus would tip the balance a small amount in favor of trying to answer these older questions)
  2. The bounty system takes care of this (I see it as similar, except it is automatic, does not remove from the asker (or other bounty-poster), and offers a much lower reward than any bounty; I believe it would be complimentary to the bounty system)
  3. 5 rep would not provide real motivation (see the answer to the first point)

Though of course I'd hate to be downvoted, I welcome all feedback. If you feel motivated enough to vote either way, please also let me know what your thoughts are (in a comment or answer).

  • 2
    The accepted answer +15 isn't subject to the daily rep limit.
    – agf
    Nov 7, 2011 at 17:38
  • 3
    We already have badges for answering old questions (if the answer is upvoted). This looks more like getting people to try not to answer for the first 12 hours.
    – Bo Persson
    Nov 7, 2011 at 17:46
  • @agf - I did not realize that, thanks - do you have a link? (I could revise my question to represent that) Nov 7, 2011 at 17:49
  • @BoPersson would some changes to the thresholds or bonus amounts be sufficient? I personally don't go for badges instead of rep, but that is a reasonable point. Nov 7, 2011 at 17:52
  • @code - Removing the 12 hour limit would improve the proposition. I often answer questions that "old" because I haven't seen them before (work, sleep, etc).
    – Bo Persson
    Nov 7, 2011 at 17:58
  • @BoPersson so, you are saying that the thresholds should be only 7 days and 3 months? I think quite obviously that if the community cannot find a consensus ("it's already too tempting"... "No, it's not tempting enough"), then there is no point in making such a change. I appreciate yours and everyone's comments! Nov 7, 2011 at 18:10
  • @agf I have been able to find a quote from the SO FAQ in a question that says "...a maximum of 200 reputation per day (although accepted answers are immune to this limit)", but the FAQ contains no such text at this time. Was it removed at some point (purposely or accidentally)? nevermind - wording was changed, but it's there! Nov 7, 2011 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


Accepting the answer is mostly disassociated from awarding rep. This would produce more "You should accept my answer" comments on questions that the OP doesn't care about anymore or has forgotten. Let the community decide by voting. This not only produces rep, it also can produce the silver, multiple-award necromancer badge. There is already enough interest in unanswered questions.

Also, why disincentivize answering new questions? Old, unanswered questions do need attention, I agree, but it's more desirable that we catch them as they go by. Someone browsing the unanswered tab, sorting by 'newest', and navigating back to old questions to post an answer 3 months after the question was written is likely to be useless to the OP. Browsing the front page, however, and answering the questions as they come up will provide immediate utility to the OP and also prevent the question from appearing on the unanswered list.

It's true that we're creating a repository of Q&A, and unanswered questions are something of a problem. However, there's still an important element that's tied directly to the individuals struggling with problems and asking questions right now that your suggestion downplays too much. I don't think there's a need for a small shift towards answering older questions.

  • Thanks! I don't believe this dis-incentivizes answering new questions - the potential rewards are not great enough. The only question in my mind as to the utility of my feature suggestion is in the ROI (development effort vs. usage), but I wonder if there are any changes to the thresholds or point values that you might suggest, (e.g. as you seem to be on the "too tempting/too big of a shift" side, maybe same thresholds, but only 1 point per threshold, or maybe only a 6 hour and 24 hour threshold, possibly also with reduced bonus?). I personally value rep more than badges, but that seems valid! Nov 7, 2011 at 17:52

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