I was impressed by the effort that Ankur put into his answer to my question "Bringing items into China for a friend - what to expect at customs?", so I created a bounty so that I could award extra reputation as a way of thanking him for his help.

As the reason for my bounty, I specified, "One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty":

Screenshot of "Why are you starting this bounty?" dialog, with "Reward existing answer" selected

When I went to award the bounty, however, I noticed that I still have to wait 24 hours:

Screenshot of error message:  "You may award your bounty in 23 hours."

Is this really necessary, seeing as how I started the bounty specifically to award it to an existing answer?

  • 2
    I think it's not a big deal. The bounty will give the question more visibility, and possibly more answers and upvotes to the existing answers. Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 15:52
  • 5
    (That close-"X" looks odd to me!)
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 1:08
  • 5
    possible duplicate of I want to award a bounty to an existing answer, should I have to wait 24 hours?
    – a cat
    Commented Mar 18, 2012 at 11:10
  • @DannyBeckett An exemplary-answer bounty on a question about exemplary-answer bounties... Nice one. Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 3:19
  • @michaelb958 I see you saw the irony too :p ...I actually just wanted to reward Asad's answer. Commented Oct 29, 2013 at 3:25
  • 2
    As a sidenote: Due to the additional attention, having a bounty on the question also increases the chance of upvotes and thus additional reward for the answer in question. Therefore, the answerer benefits most from your bounty if you wait the full week to award it.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 15:34

5 Answers 5


The bounty system is specifically made to draw attention to a question and rub people the right way into answering it. The reason there is a period in which the bounty cannot be awarded is to allow people to spend some time into providing a great answer -- which sometimes requires some thought and research. If a bounty is awarded quickly, it discourages other potentially better answers -- people would be significantly less inclined to provide a great answer to a question for which the bounty has already been awarded.

Another reason for some seemingly unnecessary restrictions on the bounty system (i.e. bounty amounts, maximum number of outstanding bounties at any particular time, bounty times etc.) are there to prevent abuse, for example continuously transferring some of your rep to a buddy of yours.

Adding a bounty after a great answer has been posted is perfectly okay, but there's no way for the system to "know" that you intend to slap your bounty on an already existing post -- besides, this would completely circumvent the 24-hour restriction, which is there for a reason.

  • 22
    Good points about the bounty system in general. However, in this case, SE did know that my intent was to apply the bounty to an existing answer. I've updated my OP with more info.
    – user164291
    Commented Dec 13, 2011 at 13:45
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    The 'to "know" that you intend to...' should probably read 'to "know" that you honestly intend to...'?
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 17, 2011 at 15:56
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    Why not just award the bounty right away and show everyone that this post has received such bounty for the next 24 hours (or up to 7 days)? Restrict awarding more than 1 such bounty per 24 hours to keep "buddies problem" away. Besides, if a better answer is posted afterwards, it doesn't mean that a new bounty wouldn't be awarded for it too. Commented Aug 7, 2012 at 13:39
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    'but there's no way for the system to "know" that you intend to slap your bounty on an already existing post' Uh, yes there is. That's the whole point of this question: bounties for which we have clicked "One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty."
    – endolith
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:04
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    The reason doesn't make sense in the first place, but here, it simply doesn't apply.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 8:00
  • 1
    It's like this answer didn't even take the question into account. Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 14:04
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    Like, this is terrible. I tried to do something nice for an outstanding answer and now I have to remember to come back and actually award it in 24 hours. Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 14:06

Here's a suggestion; for a "Reward Existing Answers" bounty, you should be able to select an answer immediately, which will result in your bounty automatically being awarded to that answer after the expiration of the timeout (or perhaps at the end of the bounty period).

This has the following benefits:

  • the question stays in the featured list for a while, as intended
  • not vulnerable to abuse (the timeout for awarding the bounty has not changed)
  • makes your life simpler: not having to keep track of your bounties network wide, you can spend more time doing other things, like riding bicycles or training your dog to do cartwheels
  • 11
    would be nice if this would also auto-fill the bounty message with text explicitly referring selected answer, like "this answer is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty."
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 12:45
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    I agree with #2 & #3, but if the bounty is pre-awarded, what is the point of posting it on the featured list since I can't get the bounty for another great answer. Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 13:37
  • @psubsee2003 It draws attention to the great answer you're rewarding, but you have point; there isn't really incentive to answer the question once you know the bounty is going to a specific answer. However, if an answer posted later does get awarded the bounty, it was never a REA bounty to begin with.
    – user200500
    Commented Feb 15, 2013 at 19:44
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    You could register that you want the bounty to go to a specific answer after the timeout, but it could still be changed by you before then, encouraging other answers?
    – endolith
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:08
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    As someone who awards bounties regularly, I would love this. I have to admit, though, that on more than one occasion someone's added an extra excellent answer after I've posted the bounty, resulting in me awarding another, and having a dilemma over which answer deserves the larger bounty. It's all internet learning goodness, though.
    – not my job
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 19:06

While I can generally understand that this type of bounty allows for attracting even more attention to the question, I really don't agree with the argument of preventing abuse. That is quite funky in terms of user-friendliness (user = person awarding a bounty). Abuse can be prevented in other ways. The number of concurrent open bounties could still be decremented by one for the next 24h while allowing for immediately awarding the bounty. When I award a bounty to an existing answer, it's because it's already an outstanding answer (otherwise, I'd select another type of bounty). Having to remember to come back in 24h for the actual award is a bit weird.

Also, the question could still be listed in the "featured questions". I don't see any technical reason why this wouldn't be possible...

It's a bit like trying to prevent spam on the internet by having people re-confirm their intent of sending an e-mail after 24h ;-)

  • 3
    It seems most of the poorly-implemented features on Stack Exchange are justified by using "the abuse excuse".
    – endolith
    Commented Apr 9, 2013 at 14:06
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    For what it's worth, I've seen waaaay too many people abuse bounties to write it off as nonsense. Since becoming an employee, I've had the dubious privilege of seeing even more dodgy tricks played with bounties - and frankly, I tend to think they're too easy to award already. And sure - there are other ways to prevent abuse... But they all involve either more tedious effort by mods and employees or more restrictions on when and how bounties can be awarded. Heh... Realistically, they involve both.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 1:43
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    @Shog9: Thanks for this insight. I can imagine that the Stack Exchange employees are in favour of every measure that helps them reduce tedious efforts. This kind of community automation is one of the things that made your platform so popular (and so relevant). But again, user-friendliness shouldn't be affected by any measures taken. In this particular case, just don't display the bounty button, or grey it out with a tooltip, instead of letting the user click through a couple of screens before displaying the "haha, you actually cannot do this" message to them only then.
    – Lukas Eder
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 8:01
  • ah... that waiting period actually isn't the one being discussed here.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 11, 2013 at 12:51
  • @Shog9 this request has recently gotten a bounty with message asking "Can this be reconsidered by someone who is not Jeff?" I would much appreciate if you do this (preferably by confirming Jeff's decline - I'm maybe not as informed as you but I recall bounties abused for quickly dropping own rep at rage quitting and I don't want this to become even easier than it already is)
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 8:14

From the perspective of a bounty being advertising you've just 'paid' 50 reputation to increase visibility of the question and presumably excellent answer for at least a day. The poster might actually end up accruing extra reputation in the period.

More practically I suspect that its also that special casing this sort of thing is a wee bit of work, and its the difference between having a single standard rule for all bounties, and a little extra logic that needs to be maintained for insta-bountying.

  • 1
    Yes. When I post a "reward existing answer" bounty I'm hoping my bounty produces more rep for the answer than just my bounty -- I'm drawing attention to it, indicating the answer in my bounty message, and hoping other people will agree and upvote it. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:47
  • 1
    That's all fine and dandy. But it makes a terrible user experience for the person giving the bounty: I read an answer, I find it to be correct and good, and I want to award extra reputation right then and there. I don't want to come back a day later. If the extra advertisement is a concern, it could stay in the featured tab for 6 to 8 days regardless of me instantly awarding the bounty.
    – Stijn
    Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:53
  • Hence the second part. I suspect they don't really want to do it cause its extra work. That said, I've caught someone trying to transfer rep to a sock cause of of the waiting period, but that was a happy accident, and we were aware of that before he even did it... was just the last straw Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 14:57
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    Whenever awarding bounties to an existing answer, I always wait until the very end of the bounty period, so the post gets more upvotes. Commented Apr 25, 2018 at 18:51
  • I have no interest in this fake adverstising that makes people click on a bounty question that already has a really excellent answer.
    – Phira
    Commented Jun 20, 2018 at 15:43

Given that the point of this type of bounty is explicitly to reward content that already exists, the primary purpose of the waiting period - to give people a chance to respond to the bounty by providing new content - is irrelevant.

However, the secondary purpose of the waiting period, to draw attention to interesting content, would be undermined by this change, which is a shame, since this bounty identifies great content that's deserving of attention. Therefore, instead of a waiting period, there should be a period after the bounty is awarded (a week, I guess) during which "Reward existing answer"-bountied-questions remain on the "featured" list.

Regarding the tertiary purpose of the waiting period, to prevent abuse such as rep transfer for its own sake, that could be addressed by treating the bounty as an "open" one while it's still on the "featured" list for the purpose of counting how many simultaneous open bounties a user has, thus limiting the velocity of such transfers. In fact, making this period a fixed minimum of more than a day for this type of bounty would actually make it even harder for users to use it serially to dump reputation on another user.

In addition, it would make sense to split the featured list into two, representing the two types of bounties: one for bounties that are open to solicit new answers, which would be associated with the "unanswered" or "needs answers" part of the site, and one for bounties that have been awarded to reward an existing answer, which would be associated with the "recommended" or "hot" part of the site.

  • I agree, and have this slightly weird situation arise due to not being able to award it immediately
    – stevec
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 11:00

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