Currently, the behavior is inconsistent. For most actions the user can always try to perform the action and if something is wrong, he's notified about it in nice big box of text.

For example it's not possible to vote on deleted posts. The vote arrows are still visible:

And clicking on any of them raise this friendly message:

Would be nice to have the bounty system work same way meaning the "start a bounty" link will always be visible and clickable; after clicking it, in case the bounty can't be started friendly message like the above will be displayed e.g. "You already have 3 active bounties" or "This question is less than 24 hours old" etc.

Another option is for this to be like the edit link: always visible, but disabled when can't be used, with the reason as tooltip:

  • Personally I feel it should be the other way round - the up/down vote arrows should not be visible if you can't use them. It seems a bit broken to have UI elements visible which you can't use. It's like pretending to give a baby a toy then as they reach for it, snatch it back. It's just mean! – dav_i Oct 15 '12 at 9:29
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    @dav_i I disagree. If elements will start vanishing it will just cause confusion. People will think it's a bug and try reloading and bang their head over the wall. Seriously now - I would love to know why I can't do stuff, not just that I can't do it. It's like telling the baby "See this snack? You can't have it right now because you didn't eat anything". Explaining the reason, this is the main idea. – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Oct 15 '12 at 9:32
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    Another alternative would to be unclickable but with roll-over text explaining. – dav_i Oct 15 '12 at 9:37
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    IMO it should definitely be greyed out, not just clickable with an error message. There should be a quick queue for the times after I already know why the bounty can't be started. Otherwise the system switches from being confusing the first time to frustrating every other time. – Ben Brocka Oct 15 '12 at 12:10
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    @Ben grayed out is fine, but how would you know why? – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Oct 15 '12 at 12:30
  • @ShaWizDowArd, The reason can be placed on the title tags of the links. So that it can be seen on hover. – Starx Oct 15 '12 at 12:40
  • @Starx yeah,that would work too. :) – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Sep 25 '16 at 22:36
  • +1 for putting a bounty on it – user281052 Sep 26 '16 at 5:25
  • @DaM lol, thanks! Now to get the rest of the rep back.... :D – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Sep 26 '16 at 5:36
  • @DaMaxContent gotta love the irony and hypocrisy there. – Nissa Sep 27 '16 at 1:02
  • lol. there is soo much irony in both my comment and the fact that there is a bounty on it. – user281052 Sep 27 '16 at 1:03
  • @ShadowWizard, A bit back from me too :) – Starx Sep 27 '16 at 5:28
  • This is a good feature request. I want to put a bounty on it. Oh wait, I can't. I wonder why... – Kodos Johnson Mar 4 '17 at 2:24
  • @KodosJohnson hehe, true... userscript might also be helpful, I can write the JS. I think. :-) – Shadow Wizard is Ear For You Mar 4 '17 at 6:52

I wrote a simple userscript (direct install link, Stack Apps post) which checks most of the reasons why you can't start a bounty, and displays that information on the same place where you'd normally find the 'start a bounty' link. It checks:

  • if you're on a Meta site (those don't have bounties, except for Meta Stack Exchange)
  • if there's an open bounty
  • if the question is closed, deleted or locked
  • if the question is at least two days old
  • if the user has at least 75 reputation (where you get the bounty privilege)
  • if the user has posted an answer, which raises the bar to at least 100 reputation
  • the last bounty by the user, the new one has to be at least twice that amount
  • if the user has three active bounties already

Proof of the pudding: when viewing this question, I see

enter image description here

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    I feel like if you're already installing this script, you're probably already aware of the bounty limitations. This needs to be something implemented in the site, not a userscript. – Goodbye StackExchange Dec 22 '17 at 2:28
  • @FrankerZ that could be true; most of the information is already on the page (just not in that spot). It does save you from checking your active / offered bounties, which are on a separate page. – Glorfindel Dec 22 '17 at 7:17

It would be nice if stack exchange still displayed the bounty button on posts that are eligible for bounty, but where the user may not have the ability to actually create the bounty. I think this could be useful for the following reasons:

  • For users with < 75 rep, it could explain what the bounty system is, and give information for 75 rep.
  • For users with >= 75 rep, and less than the minimum to create the bounty, the system should notify the user (In the popup) that they do not have enough reputation to create a bounty, and the reasoning why (In my case, the minimum was 100 because I posted an answer to a question). This would have at least saved at least 1 post.

I think overall it would just reduce the confusion down, and give users some direction. (I literally thought I was going insane when the button disappeared).

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