I never read them, and they only serve to aggravate me. I know I have a bounty out there, and I want to let it run the full 7 days.

This is especially true on sites with a lot of bounties, such as MSO or SO, where much of the activity on bountied questions seems to happen in the last 24 hours.

I already feel spammed by my SE inbox sending me multiple notifications about my bounties expiring, and I get notified when I get new responses to the bounty and obviously didn't choose to award the bounty then.

I wouldn't mind an email after the bounty has expired and is in the grace period, as then it has served its purposes and should definitely be awarded, however receiving an unasked for email about a bounty I know exists and that I don't want to award yet is very irritating.

You guys are usually great about only sending out emails that I would actually be interested in reading, and being spammed with things like bounty notices expiring only dilutes that value.

So please, either make the "your bounty is ending soon" email an opt-in feature, or send it out after the bounty has run it's full course and is in its grace period.


In response to comments below, I'd actually like to suggest that you let users specify from a dropdown when they'd like to be reminded.

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This could default to the current behavior (being notified 1 day before it expires), and users that care to change it (such as me!) could do so :)

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    I would have downvoted right away if it wasn't for "make the 'your bounty is ending soon' email an opt-in feature". For someone who visits the site every single day, I've actually managed to forget about at least one bounty that I offered in the past. – BoltClock's a Unicorn May 16 '13 at 16:16
  • @BoltClock'saUnicorn Hrrmmm perhaps you should post an answer along those lines so people can vote. I just realized I actually have two separate solutions here for the same perceived problem, and am not really sure which one the community would prefer (Make the email notification opt-in, or send it after the bounty expires instead of 24 hours before it expires). My preference is for sending it after the bounty actually ends and is in the grace period, as I sometimes forget about my bounties too :) – Rachel May 16 '13 at 16:19
  • I'm in the same position as @BoltClock - I've seen many bounties simply vanish, sometimes due to people not being active on the site every day, and other times because they just missed it. I think the e-mail reminder is good to have, but agree that perhaps it should be opt-in. – Aaron Bertrand May 16 '13 at 16:22
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    @AaronBertrand An email reminder is great, but only if its sent when the user would typically want to award the bounty. Often I see much of the activity on my bountied questions during the last 24 hours, so I normally don't award them until after they've expired. Sending the email notification early just results in me feeling irritated at the "spam" and sometimes forgetting about the bounty anyways as now the email is marked "read" in my inbox so is often forgotten about (or has been deleted depending of if I'm in a bad mood when I first saw it). – Rachel May 16 '13 at 16:24
  • @Rachel true, though sometimes a bounty can generate a lot of activity, and a reminder before it expires can be useful in order to give you adequate time to review all of the answers that have been posted so far. You might have a conflict that limits your availability during the grace period, so getting an advance warning can help in some scenarios I suspect. – Aaron Bertrand May 16 '13 at 16:27
  • @AaronBertrand I would agree with that logic if it wasn't for the fact that there is a 24-hour grace period to review answers and award the bounty after it expires. I guess it depends on how often people actually need to use 48 hours to review responses as opposed to 24 hours :) – Rachel May 16 '13 at 16:30
  • @Rachel maybe I travel for business a lot more than you, but I can tell you for certain that there are many times when 24 hours' notice would not have been enough for me. Perhaps the feature request should be that I can set the reminder time - much like I can with the alarm on my phone, meeting requests, etc. – Aaron Bertrand May 16 '13 at 16:32
  • In other words, if you change it from 24 hours to 48 hours (or any other change), you might make it better for you, but that will almost certainly make it worse for some portion of the population. – Aaron Bertrand May 16 '13 at 16:33
  • @AaronBertrand That would be a great idea. Make the email opt-in, and let users select from a dropdown for when they want to be reminded. If you don't check in much, you may want a reminder a day or two in advance, however if you're a very active user that checks in a lot, you may only want the reminder when the bounty expires. – Rachel May 16 '13 at 16:33
  • Now I forget, is a bounty up 24x7 from the moment it was set, or does it expire at midnight UTC on the 7th/8th day? Because that should be factored in as well - depending on where you are in the world, maybe 24 hours notice isn't quite 24 hours. At the same time, the options shouldn't be complicated enough to require an inordinate amount of thinking. If I'm going to spend more than 5 seconds thinking about which option to choose, I may as well just set up my own reminder in whatever calendar / to do app I use. – Aaron Bertrand May 16 '13 at 16:36
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    Stack Exchange reputation is actually made from the tears of orphaned children, so it makes sense that they would try their hardest to keep as much of it in circulation as possible. – user200500 May 16 '13 at 16:56
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    You could try making some of those emails disappear with a clever filter in your email (this would be fairly easy on gmail, for example). I'd pretty much prefer an opt out, but if this doesn't get build a filter would be the next best thing. – yannis May 16 '13 at 17:13

Most of the proposed solutions here - including my own - are complicated and/or ugly. So about a year ago, we went with your simpler option:

I wouldn't mind an email after the bounty has expired and is in the grace period, as then it has served its purposes and should definitely be awarded

You now get just one email, at the start of the grace period, and only if you haven't already awarded the bounty.

If even that bothers you, you can turn it off in your profile preferences along with other forms of email notifications.

Folks with active bounties will still get copious on-site inbox notifications as their bounty runs its course, and if they've opted in to inbox email notifications they'll even get emailed about them if they're not checking in on the site.


Regarding your proposed change:

In response to comments below, I'd actually like to suggest that you make the bounty reminder email opt-in, and let users specify from a dropdown when they'd like to be reminded.

I think this would have to be opt-out. As I noted here, the entire system is opt-in - no one's forcing you to offer bounties at all.

If you're a conscientious person who visits the site regularly and doesn't need the email notifications, turning them off should be fine - but a lot of folks aren't, and unawarded bounties tend to subvert the whole intent of the system by weakening answerers' faith in the promise that someone will get rewarded for their efforts.

Relying on the folks who most need regular reminders to opt-in to them probably wouldn't work very well. Relying on folks who offer a lot of bounties but find the emails annoying almost certainly would.

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    I don't think your suggestion and Rachel's are mutually exclusive. The drop-down could, after all, default to a certain option (the current behavior), while offering folks like Rachel the ability to change the timing of the reminder or eliminate it altogether. – Aaron Bertrand May 16 '13 at 17:06
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    I would be happy with an opt-out option :) (Although my ideal would definitely be to get the reminder when the bounty expires, as I don't mind the email if it gets sent at the time I would actually want to award the bounty). – Rachel May 16 '13 at 17:11

You guys are usually great about only sending out emails that I would actually be interested in reading, and being spammed with things like bounty notices expiring only dilutes that value.

Y'know, there's a simple solution to this...

Don't offer so many bounties!

Particularly on MSO, where you've bountied more questions than on any other site, mostly on feature-requests. It's occasionally useful to draw folks' attention to something here, but generally-speaking no one's gonna put extra effort into implementing a feature just for a bit of meta rep; you're actually way better off just making a good edit or posting a good answer that fleshes out the idea a bit and bumps the thread.

If this is a problem for you on Stack Overflow (where presumably you actually need a good answer to the questions you're offering bounties on), that's a bit different.

  • I think part of my aggravation is I had 2 SO bounties and 3 MSO bounties during roughly the same time period, and I am feeling spammed with notifications as a result. My opinion doesn't change though, even with a single bounty, however normally I would just live with being annoyed and not bother posting on meta about it. An email about a bounty I am aware of and do not want to award yet only serves to aggravate me. – Rachel May 16 '13 at 16:41
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    Well, that kinda works both ways: your bounties are also taking up space and attention on the Featured lists. If the email is annoying for you, imagine how annoying it'd be for someone to see that listing rising for a week, spend the time to provide a good answer and then... Not get a bounty because you forgot about it. This isn't exactly a hypothetical concern either - folks tend to get pretty upset when they're working for a bounty and the person offering it goes MIA. – Shog9 May 16 '13 at 16:43
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    I have no opinion on the bounty emails themselves, but telling someone that the side-effects of a feature can be avoided by just using the feature less is unhelpful and avoids the issue. You may as well have just said "No." with no explanation. – staticbeast May 16 '13 at 16:45
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    That seems like an unfair comparison since the Featured list is easily ignored if you're not interested in it, however my personal email inbox is not. Also, users that post answers to try to get a bounty should understand that there are X days left in the bounty, and that sometimes users want to wait to see if a better answer gets posted so they can award the best answer. And if their answer is great, they'll get rep from upvotes and half the bounty rep. (Also, I don't think I've ever forgotten to award a bounty. I've not awarded one intentionally, but never forgotten) – Rachel May 16 '13 at 16:45
  • @staticbeast: I have no actual concerns with this feature-request itself - if enough folks want it, it's probably feasible in some fashion. But I actually do find a lot of the bounties here on MSO to be mildly annoying ("needs more attention" on poorly-spec'd feature-requests are the worst), so if that's what's feeding into this then... Well, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this!" – Shog9 May 16 '13 at 16:48
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    I've had a single bounty running, and getting the e-mails was still an aggravation. Three days left! Two days left! Last day! I don't care - I get notifications in my little SO inbox, I don't need e-mails as well. – LittleBobbyTables - Au Revoir May 16 '13 at 16:49
  • I've got it... you're just out to see if I'm paying attention or not, like you said here :) – Rachel May 16 '13 at 16:49
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    curses! She's on to me... – Shog9 May 16 '13 at 16:50
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    @Shog9 I understand that, but the number of bounties on meta is a separate issue (perhaps you should look at toggling down the number of meta-bounties to 2 or back to 1). With the availability of three bounties per site and as many sites as there are, this could easily be a problem faced by anyone with three or more simultaneous bounties. It just seems to me that your answer is more of an objection to having bounties clog up meta, rather than an answer to the feature being requested. – staticbeast May 16 '13 at 16:54
  • @staticbeast: I've added a separate answer to address my specific concerns with this request: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/180524/… – Shog9 May 16 '13 at 17:04
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    "Don't offer so many bounties!" When I read that I checked @Rachel's MSO profile and expected to find 100+ bounties (MSO rep being the completely pointless artifact that it is). Come on, 20 bounties aren't that many. Perhaps they could be a bit more spread out, but still not really that many. – yannis May 16 '13 at 17:06
  • Hey, that's 10x the number I've offered, @Yannis. – Shog9 May 16 '13 at 17:08
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    @Yannis Hrrmm I haven't actually ever looked at what I've bountied in the past so went to check it out when I saw your comment. Of the 20 bounties offered, 1 is active, 5 are status-completed, 6 have no answers at all, and most of the rest don't seem that unreasonable. The remaining 7 (2 are for the same post) were most likely posted because it's recommended that you bounty an older question instead of posting a new one, so when I think of something I'd like to see implemented, I search for that feature and bounty it instead of posting a new question :) – Rachel May 16 '13 at 17:20
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    You're super-annoying but I love you anyway, @gnat. – Shog9 May 16 '13 at 18:07
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    @Shog9 of course bounties suck as a way to get attention from SE on feature requests, but there are not many ways for a regular user to bring an older feature request to the attention of SE employees. And it is often not obvious is a highly-upvoted feature request is ignored because nobody from SE has seen it, someone saw it and thought "meh", or someone saw it and thought it was crap. – Mad Scientist May 16 '13 at 18:20

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