I provided an answer to this question that had an open bounty for 100 points at the time. I responded a couple days before the bounty was set to expire. I put in a fair amount of work into understanding the question and coding up a solution and believed I would probably earn the bounty as I was the only one putting real work into coding a solution to exactly what was really being asked.
The bounty deadline comes and goes. The OP never responds and never awards the bounty. No other answer showed two or more upvotes. It appears that the OP abandoned the question and the bounty was never assigned to anyone. I've read here on meta that if there are no automatic qualifiers for the bounty, then it just isn't awarded.
Something seems wrong with this process. It seems like when someone offers a bounty, they should be required to finish it in some way, if not in a timely fashion, then some time later when they come back to the site and try to participate some more. They should either select an answer to award the bounty or select a "no acceptable answer was offered". If the readers disagree with their choice of "no acceptable answer was offered", then they can report that action for moderator attention.
Don't the people who offered their answers under the promise of a bounty deserve some sort of resolution? Otherwise, it feels kind of like a bait and switch. The reward is offered, but never paid. I know the OP loses the bounty rep points either way, but this post is meant to be more about fairness to those who put up their answers under the promise of a bounty.
Obviously, there isn't a lot that can be done to "force" the OP to do anything. But, it seems that their privileges on the site could be reduce or restricted in some way if they don't handle the bounty. Or, they could lose double the bounty points if they just ignore their responsibilities entirely. There certainly could be more consequences than there are now (which is none).
Edit: Interesting response here. I guess by all the downvotes, nobody thinks this is worth any attention - that there's no interest in making more of an incentive for someone who offers a bounty to follow up on their bounty and either award the bounty or indicate that no answer solved their issue.
That surprises me. I would have thought people would have wanted to seek improvements that would make it less likely that someone would offer a bounty and never return because that isn't the best use of the site or the best for the site or the best for the bounty system. I'm fine if people don't like my particular ideas for improving it, but this whole exchange felt like people dumped on the idea of even trying to improve this. I certainly felt personally dumped on here. I tried to delete my post a couple days ago, but the system won't let me delete it, so I guess it just gets to sit here and accumulate downvotes.
Well, one thing I learned here - bounties may never be awarded and that doesn't seem to bother anyone. In fact, I may not even bother looking at them any more.
Another interesting observation - the only answer here that actually has much real thought in it has the fewest upvotes. In this case, witty responses seem to garner more popularity than real content.