• What is a bounty?
  • What is the "Featured" tab on the homepage?
  • How can I search for questions that have a bounty attached?
  • How do I start a bounty? When can I start a bounty?
  • What is the minimum amount of rep I can offer a bounty for?
  • Can I use Markdown formatting in the bounty remarks? Can I edit the remark?
  • How long is the bounty period?
  • How do I award a bounty?
  • Can I award a bounty to my own answer?
  • Can I award a bounty to an old answer?
  • If I offer a bounty on someone else's question, can I award the bounty to their answer?
  • After awarding the bounty, can I remove it or move it to another answer at a later time?
  • What happens if there's no answer after the bounty period?
  • What happens if I feel my question is still unanswered?
  • What is automatic awarding?
  • Are bounty awards exempt from the 200 points/day reputation limit?
  • How does Community Wiki mode affect bounties?
  • Can I offer a second bounty after the first one has expired?
  • Can I raise my bounty?
  • What happens if a bounty question is closed or deleted?
  • Why can't I vote to close or migrate a bounty question?
  • What happens if I delete my account while I have an active bounty?
  • Do I keep an awarded bounty when I delete my answer?
  • What happens if a question where I awarded a bounty later gets deleted or migrated?
  • Can I cancel my bounty?
  • Can I affect / divide / share part of my bounty to two (or more) users?
  • How many outstanding bounties can a single user have?

See also: "What is a bounty? How can I start one?" in the Help Center

Return to FAQ index

up vote 352 down vote
+50

Sources: the official FAQ and blog posts.

See also the official privileges page for bounties.

What is a bounty?

A bounty is a special reputation award given to answers. This feature was designed to motivate answerers, and help questions get the answers they deserve.

Bounty awards are funded by the personal reputation of the users who offer them. The award can be anywhere from 50 to 500 reputation, in 50 point increments. Note: If you are offering a bounty on a question that you have already posted an answer to, your minimum spend is 100 reputation (not 50).

While you do not need to be the owner of a question to start a bounty on that question, only one bounty can be active on a question at once, and each user can only have up to three active bounties at once.

As of June 2010, the bounty system is decoupled from accepting an answer.

What is the "Featured" tab on the homepage? / How can I search for questions that have a bounty attached?

Questions with an active bounty appear with a special icon in all question lists, and are also visible on the home page's Featured tab. Questions in that tab are sorted by the amount of time left on their bounties. The closer a bounty is to expiring, the higher it will be on the list.

How do I start a bounty? When can I start a bounty?

A bounty can be started on a question two days after the question was asked.

To start a bounty, click on the start a bounty link at the bottom of an eligible question. The bounty panel will open. Use the dropdown to allocate the bounty amount -- anywhere between 50 and 500 reputation, in 50 point increments. Also, specify a canned reason why you are starting the bounty from a dropdown, and type an optional further explanation.

You must have at least 75 reputation to start a bounty, and at least as much reputation as the bounty amount.

The bounty award will be subtracted from your reputation when the bounty is started, not when it is awarded.

What is the minimum amount of rep I can offer a bounty for?

For most questions, 50 reputation. There are some exceptions, though:

  • If you have already answered the question before, the minimum bounty offer is 100.
  • If you have already offered a bounty on the question before, the minimum offer is double your last offer (see below).

Can I use Markdown formatting in the bounty remarks? Can I edit the remark?

Bounty notices support the markdown mini format using used for comments. The following are allowed:

_italic_ and **bold** text,
inline `code in backticks`,
and [basic links](http://example.com).

You cannot edit the remark, so validate carefully before saving.

How long is the bounty period?

7 days, or 168 hours.

As of June 2011, bounty offerers may award bounties up to 24 hours after the bounty period ends (known as the grace period), to allow them to evaluate answers posted at the end of the bounty period. During the grace period, there will be no indication in the questions lists (e.g. front page, featured tab) that the question has a bounty, as confirmed here. However, answers posted during the grace period can still be awarded the bounty.

Note that even if no one else answered during the bounty period, the grace period is still in effect for 24 hours.

How do I award a bounty?

A bounty can be awarded 24 hours after the bounty was started. You can award the bounty to any answer posted by anyone else, even an answer that has already been awarded one or more bounties (including by you).

To award the bounty manually, click on the +50 (or whatever bounty amount was allocated) button on the left side of the answer you want to award:

Tooltip for award bounty

Can I award a bounty to my own answer?

No. This used to be possible, but it has been disabled. The user would not get the reputation back, and the bounty will be displayed as +0, “this answer has been awarded bounty worth 0 reputation”.

Can I award a bounty to an old answer?

Yes, you can award your bounty to any answer on the question. This makes it possible for users to reward particularly good answers with more rep than a standard upvote would provide.

To indicate that your bounty will be awarded to an existing answer, choose "Reward existing answer" when asked "Why are you starting this bounty?"

Reward existing answer

Keep in mind, that the bounty can be awarded only after a minimum of 24 hours, after starting the bounty. It is suggested that you wait until the grace period to award the bounty, as due to the additional attention a bounty gives, the answer may receive more upvotes.

If I offer a bounty on someone else's question, can I award the bounty to their answer?

Yes, a bounty can be awarded to any answer except one posted by the person offering the bounty.

This means that if you offer a bounty on someone else's question, and the original poster of that question posts a self-answer, you can award the bounty to their answer.

After awarding the bounty, can I remove it or move it to another answer at a later time?

No, awarding is permanent. (But you're warned about that when actually awarding the bounty.)

What happens if there's no answer after the bounty period?

If after the end of the bounty period a question has no answers, no bounty will be awarded and the question will no longer be featured.

Part of what you're "paying for" with a bounty is for higher question visibility and increased answerer motivation. A bounty does not guarantee a response and is not refunded if none are received.

What happens if I feel my question is still unanswered? / What is automatic awarding?

Approximately 24 hours after the end of the bounty period (once the grace period ends), if the bounty starter has not manually awarded the bounty, the bounty may be awarded automatically.

If the author offered the bounty, and accepted an answer that was posted after the bounty was started, that answer is awarded the full bounty.

Otherwise, all or half of the bounty is awarded to the highest-scored answer out of those which...

  • ...were posted after the bounty was started, and
  • ...have a score of at least 2 (at the time the automatic awarding takes place), and
  • ...were not written by the bounty starter.

If the chosen answer was accepted by the question owner, it will receive the full bounty. Otherwise, it will receive half the bounty. If two eligible answers have the same score, the older answer is chosen.

If no answer meets any of the above two criteria, the bounty is not awarded to any answer, and is not refunded to the bounty starter.

Are bounty awards exempt from the 200 points/day reputation limit?

Yes, bounty awards are exempt from the daily reputation cap.

How does Community Wiki mode affect bounties?

Bounties are not affected by community wiki mode. When you award a bounty to an answer marked community wiki, the reputation bonus will be awarded to the user who posted the original revision of the answer.

Can I offer a second bounty after the first one has expired? / Can I raise my bounty?

You can offer as many bounties on a question as you want. However, only one bounty can be active on a question at a time. Moreover, any user may have at most 3 concurrent bounties.

Note that if you offer several bounties on the same question, you will have to double the amount each time (or more). That is, if your first bounty was worth 50 reputation, your second bounty on the same question will have to be for at least 100, your third for at least 200 and so on. If you've already offered a bounty for more than 250, you can still offer more bounties for 500 (the maximum amount) as long as you like (or as long as you have the rep). This doubling applies only to bounties by the same user on the same question.

What happens if a bounty question is closed or deleted? / Why can't I vote to close or migrate a bounty question?

Bounty questions cannot be closed directly.

However, diamond moderators can clear bounties, which would effectively remove the bounty and clear its history. The bounty owner's reputation would be recalculated as if they had never placed that bounty. This would then allow it to be closed, migrated, or deleted like any other question. (source)

What happens if I delete my account while I have an active bounty?

The bounty will just be moved to (owned) by the Community user and will be awarded automatically at the end of the period as they normally would. (source)

What happens to an awarded bounty if the awarded answer gets deleted?

In most cases, when an answer that received a bounty gets deleted, all reputation including the bounty are revoked. (This may take 5 minutes to be visible.) The bounty is not given back to the user who awarded it. (Exception: if the answer had a score of at least 3, and was visible for at least 60 days at the time of deletion, the bounty award is kept.)

Why can't I delete my own question where an answer has been awarded a bounty?

This was a recent change instituted on February 14, 2018. This is to prevent abuse, where the owner immediately deletes the question after the bounty is awarded. There have been cases where the answers involved have not received upvotes, or the questions have not received multiple answers, so such deletions have not been prevented by these ordinary measures.

What happens if a question where I awarded a bounty later gets deleted or migrated?

If the question or any bountied answer gets deleted, as of February 2018, the rules have changed:

  • If the bounty awardee does not get to keep the reputation, or if there was no answer that earned any bounty rep, the reputation is refunded. It can take a few minutes for this to happen. If the question is undeleted or migration is rejected, the reputation is deducted again. Source
  • If the bounty awardee does get to keep their reputation after question deletion (their answer earned a score of at least 3 and was visible for at least 60 days), the reputation is no longer refunded.

If the question later gets migrated, the bounty remains attached to the migration stub and does not migrate. Note that the answers on the migration stub get deleted immediately upon migration, so the above rules apply in that case.

Can I cancel my bounty?

No. Once you start a bounty, you cannot cancel it.

If you feel there are exceptional circumstances, flag the question for moderator attention to explain the situation.

Can I affect / divide / share part of my bounty to two (or more) users?

No. If you feel that multiple answers deserve a bounty, start and award multiple bounties, one for each answer.

If multiple answers to a single question have earned bounties, it's because the question has been subject to multiple bounties.

How many outstanding bounties can a single user have?

Three. You must award a bounty after this point to start a new bounty.

  • 9
    How does this affect already earned priveleges and the potential to gain new priveleges? For example at 75 you can set a bounty. If you do so and spend 50 rep points you now have 25. Can you no longer set bounties? Would you also now need 75 reputation before "Editing Community Wiki" at 100 reputation or would you still only be 25 reputation away? – Ryan Mar 7 '12 at 17:59
  • 4
    I don't think that "why can't I close a question with a bounty" is adequately answered. I've seen a few instances lately why a user simply puts on a 50 point bounty to make sure the question is not closed. If there are 5 people or more that think the question is off topic, then close the question and either do a refund or let the user loose his bounty points. Alternatively only allow close votes happen on questions with bounties that already have 1 or more close votes. – Maarten Bodewes Aug 18 '12 at 12:00
  • 1
    @owlstead: Do you have examples of such cases? It doesn't sound like an important use case to me- the question would have to have been asked two days earlier and lasted those two days without being closed. And is a user willing to pay 50 rep a week just for the sake of keeping a bad question open? – David Robinson Sep 21 '12 at 16:52
  • 2
    @DavidRobinson: Yes, I've seen it happen, but I would be hard pressed to come up with the example by now. The problem is that some questions are not tagged with tag labels that are frequently used. In that case the question certainly won't be closed within two days. Even then, it is relatively easy to simply edit in tags later on (although I don't know what that would do with the bounty system out of the top of my head). – Maarten Bodewes Sep 21 '12 at 17:02
  • There is a badge called 'investor' at stackoverflow which states - "First bounty you offered on another person's question". When this badge says investor does that mean I who invested in another person's question has some gain in terms of reputation points? – Javier Brooklyn Feb 9 '13 at 5:29
  • @JavierBrooklyn There's no reputation gain for the bounty awarder. Badge names really don't mean much, they're just what someone decided would be a good enough name. But you can think of it as investing reputation to gain knowledge from better answers or to improve the site by letting good answerers rise to the top and providing more motivation for good answers to gain a better experience in future. – Dukeling May 10 '13 at 11:08
  • Question: "Note that if you offer several bounties on the same question, you will have to double the amount each time (or more)." Does this mean that I add an amount equal to what is already there? I.e. I put a 50 point bounty, no award, at end of period can I put another 50 to get to 100 or does the 50 go away and then I have to put a full 100? If this is not the case would that be a bad idea (to add additional rep instead of replacement)? – chacham15 Nov 1 '13 at 7:34
  • So the system does not allowed refund. Does that mean noce the person who started the bounty, he has to award the bounty to someone? – KJC2009 Mar 4 '14 at 0:41
  • 1
    @KJC2009 no, if the bounty period is over (7 days plus 24 hours grace period) and its creator did not award it manually it might be awarded automatically, read the answer above for details (under "What is automatic awarding?". As a side note, I understand you're frustrated for getting downvotes on Meta but please do not vandalize other posts. Thanks. – Shadow Wizard Apr 7 '14 at 22:13
  • In cases where you add a comment with information that leads to answer can the bounty be awarded to you? Often you need to ask questions which do not seem like good candidates to initiate an "answer." By asking these specific questions the comments are often the answer. do we then have to go through the formal process of restructuring an answer based on the flow of comments? That seems contrived. ...and what if the person already answered the post themselves with the solution derived from the comments and selected their answer? – Sean Anderson Feb 28 '15 at 20:55
  • 2
    Suggestion: perhaps explicitly state that a self-accepted self-answer won't get the bounty reward? (at least that's how it worked for me; no complaints; I get the potential for abuse and the concept of purchasing advertising.) EDIT: Please ignore. I missed the 'Can I award a bounty to my own answer?' section somehow. – whybird Jun 1 '15 at 3:19
  • 3
    If two bounties are tied for the auto-award, why does the older answer receive the bounty? It would seem that if a newer answer was able to get enough rep to catch up to the older answer, then it must be the better answer... – Alex Dec 26 '15 at 4:01
  • 1
    I think it appropriate that a bounty was awarded to an answer about bounties on a "meta" site – Frank Bryce Jan 13 '16 at 15:21
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters so that means, the OP is in loss, he doesn't get the answer he needs, and also loses the hard-earned reputation. – Muhammad Ahmad Feb 6 at 14:45
  • 1
    @MuhammadAhmad: a bounty is not a guarantee you'll get an answer. It is an advertisement, marketing for your question. Just like an ad in the paper there is never a guarantee of custom. – Martijn Pieters Feb 6 at 15:24

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protected by Shadow Wizard Dec 26 '15 at 10:26

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