My sad story: few months ago I was looking for a solution to my problem and was about to ask a question on Stack Overflow when I found an already existing question with slightly different wording. Sadly, this question had almost no answers. Now if I own the question, I would just set up bounty on it to get decent answers, but since it wasn't mine I couldn't do that and I couldn't start my own question since it would be a duplicate. So, how about making it possible to start a bounty on any question I want, not just the ones I asked?

  • 13
    Don't like this, because bounties change how accepted answers work. (Most importantly, OP loses the possibility not to accept any answer, if he considers none of them adequate.)
    – Jonik
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 10:36
  • 1
    Jonik, you are right. I'm driving Jeff to change that, but it looks like I'll lose. Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 21:32
  • 15
    I think it would be better to use a bounty pool, where people could contribute to the bounty if they want to, instead of "hijacking" the bounty of someone else's question. You could also get bigger bounties this way for popular questions. Commented Jul 4, 2009 at 8:47
  • 2
    Pity I can only give this one up, because it's a good description of a catch-22.
    – Axeman
    Commented Jul 19, 2009 at 23:10
  • 1
    I think old questions are hard to deal with (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7046/…) why not just adding a new question, your own bounty, and a link to the old one, and eventually even the old one will get closed? Plus, bounty isn't all that good for getting answers, if no answer is found within the 7 days: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1413/… Beside all that I'll always support this kind of openness and community contribution. So +1 here.
    – cregox
    Commented Mar 11, 2010 at 19:54
  • 1
    @Cawas: That's counter to the (current) emphasis on not duplicating questions. If I saw someone doing that, I'd expect it to be closed as a dupe.
    – Gnome
    Commented May 15, 2010 at 20:59
  • +1, I was just about to ask for this, couldn't find it by searching. Then I found it as a related question closed as an exact duplicate post of another question that linked to this one.
    – Andy E
    Commented Jun 8, 2010 at 17:49

11 Answers 11


It is now possible to open a bounty on any question:


  • 7
    +1 thank you for implementing this. I really hope this'll help bring some of the older and/or more-obscure questions back into the forefront to get better answers and cut down on the number of duplicate questions being made. Commented Jun 21, 2010 at 19:26

The part that concerns me about this is the OP is the one who can select the answer so what happens in the bounty now if the OP selects an answer? Or are they prohibited from doing so because someone offered a bounty on it? Isn't there potential for question hijacking if this is the case?

Hijacking goes the other way too. If someone can set a bounty on another's question and select the winning answer, they could do this when the owner is in theory deciding which answer to pick or there simply hasn't been a satisfactory one to date.

  • 19
    You could just have 2 "accepted" answers. One of the question owner, and one of the bounty owner. (The green tick, and the glowing part of the tick). Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 11:03
  • 5
    Certainly some sort of "idle timeout" on the original question by the author would be needed. Maybe the question could be changed to CW first?
    – Richard
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 11:04
  • 3
    hmmm... as Sam Hasler pointed out, you could even have multiple bounties on the questions and have different accepted answers. But I don't think the bounty-accepted answers should go on top. Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 11:06
  • 3
    Upon reflection I'm thinking the appropriate thing to do is start a new question.
    – cletus
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 11:20
  • 10
    How about this setup - you leave the OP with control of the question, but I submit a "Bounty request" along with some points, and the OP gets the message "Someuser1 has offered 50 points towards a bounty if you create one for this question. Interested?" That way, the format doesn't change at all, but a high-rep user can still provide some extra incentive.
    – SqlRyan
    Commented Sep 23, 2009 at 16:53
  • 4
    but if it's a very old question the OP might not be around anymore.
    – Phoshi
    Commented Jan 15, 2010 at 18:10
  • 2
    for multiple bounties it should show the bounties each answer has earned beside it without affecting the sort order; otherwise it would be easy to game high trafficed questions by getting a "friend" to put a bounty on it and select your answer, thereby placing it higher making it more likely to receive votes.
    – Sam Hasler
    Commented May 14, 2010 at 12:32
  • Why not just transfer ownership of the question?
    – detly
    Commented Jun 15, 2010 at 12:12

Will there still be one bounty per question? If so, one could hijack a question with a low bounty - depriving the OP from the chance to put a higher bounty on it. And then there's also the problem of which answer is considered the accepted answer...

Here are a couple of variations on this suggestion:

  1. Multiple bounties. If the first one didn't yield great answers, more could be placed (by the OP or by other users).
  2. A bounty pool, where people could contribute to the bounty of questions they care about. This would also have the advantage of creating questions with huge bounties (e.g. 10 points from every interested user).
  • 23
    +1 I like the bounty pool. Commented Jul 4, 2009 at 9:12
  • 1
    Small bounty better than no bounty. Even small one will put the question in separate list and it'll stay there long enough to get good answers and this is what really matters.
    – vava
    Commented Jul 4, 2009 at 13:50
  • 4
    I don't think a bounty pool is necessary as such. Remember, these points aren't actually worth anything; they're just an indication of your dedication to the site. Giving a user 1k, 2k, 10k rep for answering a single question would give them huge moderator privileges when they haven't really done much to prove themselves trustworthy. The only thing needed here, I think, is to allow another user to start a bounty if they're interested in the answer, but the original asker doesn't care enough to start one.
    – bdonlan
    Commented Aug 1, 2009 at 3:09
  • 1
    Revisiting this I feel even stronger about a Bounty Pool. There are plenty of question that have not been attended to for quite some time - either the OP never came back to accept an answer, or no one bothered to answer because the question really has no appeal. I think that users should be able to donate 1 - 5 rep to a bounty pool, maximum bounty pool at 200, no 50 point match.
    – IAbstract
    Commented May 15, 2010 at 18:58
  • Bounty Pool - Creative idea +1
    – VvDPzZ
    Commented Nov 29, 2011 at 14:29

I was going to suggest this in response to the closing of a similar question that I had asked.

There could be two different ways you could do this.

  1. Create a bounty on someone else's question

    This would have the advantage of being simple to implement. However, you are still limited to the bounty system, so you'd have to drop a min of 50 rep on the question. Also, only one person would be able to set up the bounty, so if two or more people wanted to show support for a question you're missing out on all that additional rep.

  2. Create a "Tip Jar" that accepts micro payments of rep towards an accepted answer

    This would still be within the bounty system, but would allow multiple people to add to the bounty and would have a very low minimum pay-in. For example, if you see some lowly slob with little to no rep asking an impressive question, you could hit the tip jar 3 times to add 3 or 6 or 15 (1 per, 2 per, 5 per) rep points towards the answer. These points would be subtracted immediately. Multiple people could throw in some rep as well, thus increasing the chance someone would want to answer. Placing a time limit on the answer, in this case, would probably not be advisable.


How about a distinction between the "answer" and the "bounty winner." This keeps the OP in control of the answer, but allows other users to add a bounty to the question. They'd be more willing to put a bounty on someone-else's question knowing they get to decided the best answer. It's sort of like a vote up, but with more "oomph."

This works with the bounty pool idea as well, each contributor awards their portion.

The mechanic could even extend to the OPs who provide a bounty. They could give most of the bounty to the answerer, but maybe give some to another who's alternative answer is valuable, but not quite the best answer.

I think it's all an exception to the rule though. I'd be willing to bet 80% of the time the answer and bounty winner are the same.


Good idea.
If you really need this answer, you should make a duplicate, link to the other question and set up a bounty for yours. And please tell me, if they closed a bounty duplicate. I'm curious.

  • It was so long ago I don't even remember what it was about :) But next I will create a duplicate and we will see.
    – vava
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 7:40
  • 3
    I don't think you set a bounty for a question straight away. Wouldn't that leave the new question open to closure?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 8:03
  • 1
    A question has to be around for two days before a bounty can be set. Although I like the idea of multiple bounties by users other than the OP I think that despite being difficult to implement it would also be open to abuse.
    – Sam Hasler
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 9:04
  • 1
    Yeah, but otherwise there's no way to get decent answers because as ChrisF pointed out they close new question as a duplicate in those two days.
    – vava
    Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 13:13
  • 1
    Useful answers would be split between the duplicates. Perhaps Answer A would satisfy Questioner B and vice-versa. Then things would really be in a twist. I like the multi-bounty option rather than the multi-question one. Commented Jul 1, 2009 at 14:12
  • 1
    Post that a bounty will be put on the question in two days
    – Casebash
    Commented Sep 20, 2009 at 10:23

In my opinion, one bounty per question should be enough, but in this case, the system shouldn't sweeten the deal.

If the question itself is basically 100% compatible with yours, it could still net good answers for you and the original OP.

The privilege to accept answer should remain at the OP's side - as you, actually, only need a good enough answer.

After the bounty is set, you could 'guide' the answers with your comments to incorporate your scenario too.

  • Additionally, If an answer gets accepted, you could get a small refund from your bounty too (15?).
    – akarnokd
    Commented Jul 21, 2009 at 11:04

Just ask a duplicate question anyway, point out that it's a duplicate (and that you're duplicating it becuase there aren't good answers on the other one, and you want to offer a bounty), offer a bounty, and hope people don't vote to close the question.

  • How you seen how fast questions are being closed now? It is a matter of seconds. It'll be more like a lottery, really. Although on the other hand it will draw some attention to that old question, which is a good thing.
    – vava
    Commented Jun 10, 2010 at 4:29
  • I don't want additional duplicate questions added (seems like the wrong solution)
    – scunliffe
    Commented Jun 10, 2010 at 16:56

I see this is still in status-planned, and I see the difficulties.

How about making it possible to fork() a question that meets the criteria that the OP described? You would be opening a whole new question, but:

  • The forked question is automatically labeled as "Fork of (other question)"
  • Forked questions have no 'exact duplicate' closing option, or at least require significantly more close votes to be closed.
  • SO throws in an additional 50 rep (on top of what they already thrown in) on forked questions.
  • A bounty is automatically started when the forked question is posted. The user must select the bounty amount prior to forking the original.
  • If the forked question gathers dust for too long, it is automatically closed as a duplicate.
  • If the forked question is successful, its merged with the original.

There's no hijacking of questions here, and the temptation to fork is tempered by knowing that you have to give up at least 100 rep to do so.

The bounty is non-refundable if a forked question is automatically closed as a duplicate due to gathering just as much dust as the original.

Maybe not perfect, but it does solve the problem of 'sharing' a question.


I have a user story for third party bounties where the third party would have to control the awarding of the bounty:

I found a solution to a problem I had here but it is dependent on prototype. I'd like to be able to put a bounty on the question for a solution that isn't dependent on prototype. I could ask my own question and then have it folded in as a duplicate, but it would be much tidier if I could just post a bounty on the question.


How about a way to buy a question, with rep, from someone?

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