If I understand the bounty system correctly after reading the FAQ:

  1. If I award a bounty, I cannot "move" that award to another answer.

  2. I lose the ability to award the bounty at the end of the bounty period.

  3. If I've accepted an answer but have not awarded an answer prior to the end of the bounty period, the full bounty gets awarded to the accepted answer.

Given the following objectives:

a. Award a bounty to the person who most contributed to answering the question, even if it didn't completely answer the question.

b. Maximize the chances that people will continue to work on the
question if it's not resolved.

c. Reliably avoid losing the bounty.

I can't think of a strategy that accomplishes all the objectives. Specifically:

  • If I wait until the very end of the bounty period to award the bounty, I risk forgetting to award it (problem with c)

  • If I award it early, I discourage additional work (problem with b) and risk not being able to give it to the best answer if one comes in later anyway (problem with a)

  • If I accept an answer and rely on the automatic award mechanism, I discourage work during the bounty period because of the acceptance,
    even if I "unaccept" it later (problem with b)

Am I looking at this right? Would the ability to move a bounty during the bounty period improve the situation significantly?


There is a grace period that exists specifically for this. You have 24 hours from the time the bounty ends to award it before it is automatically given to a qualifying answer (or none, if no answer qualifies). That is your window to give the bounty to whichever answer you want after users have had the full 7 days to post their answers.

  • Thanks for the info! Did I miss that in the FAQ? If not, do you know if it's documented anywhere "official"? – Peter Alfvin Jun 25 '13 at 14:28
  • meta.stackexchange.com/questions/16065/…, see the section How long is the bounty period? Also see the first line following What is automatic awarding? – Servy Jun 25 '13 at 14:29
  • Wow. Lazy reading on my part, including not realizing that the SO question I was reading was not the official FAQ for it, which also documents this. That said, this seems to essentially change the bounty period from 7 to 8 days, leaving the basic problem unchanged, except that I assume there is a significant amount of reminding going on at the 7 day mark. If answers were "frozen" at 7 days and/or the bounty couldn't be awarded to answers that come in on the 8th day, then the grace period would be more than just an extension, but I assume that's not the case. Not complaining ... just thinking. – Peter Alfvin Jun 25 '13 at 14:45
  • @PeterAlfvin Your assumption is incorrect. During the grace period you can only award the bounty to an answer that was posted during the bounty period. Answers can be posted to the question during the grace period, but you can't award the bounty to such answers. – Servy Jun 25 '13 at 14:48
  • Ok, that's good, although presumably existing answers can be edited during the grace period and their value considered in awarding the bounty. Again, not complaining, just observing/testing. So after all this, do you think any documentation should be updated? Should this question be marked as "duplicate" in some way? In any event, thanks again. – Peter Alfvin Jun 25 '13 at 15:00
  • You could mark it as a duplicate if you want, sure. – Servy Jun 25 '13 at 15:05

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