I've read the FAQ, the blog post announcing the decoupling of bounty from answer accepting, and many of the questions here relating to bounty, but I still haven't figured out why this bounty system works so non-intuitively.

Here's what happened recently:

  1. I asked a question on StackOverflow
  2. Having received no answers, I added a bounty.
  3. Someone provided an answer.
  4. I accepted an answer

Why would I not expect that in my accepting of that answer that my bounty would automatically be awarded? Luckily, the answerer notified me that the bounty would expire and only give him half (!?).

I understand that:

  • Others can now offer bounty on a question they didn't ask – it makes sense that bounty would have to be manually in those cases.
  • Bounty can be auto-awarded when it expires.

However, I don't understand why with what seems like the most common scenario, we wouldn't auto-award the bounty to the answerer of the actual accepted answer. What is the purpose of making it more difficult to do what is obviously intended?

Note: I didn't notice this popup reminder or maybe just didn't realize that the bounty system had changed since I had last used it. This popup should make it clear that "you haven't awarded your bounty to this answer" which is not intuitively obvious, which should lead us to question why awarding the bounty is a separate step.

  • 1
    IIRC this was once upon a time the case. (was removed because you can accept your own answer, but not award the bounty to yourself) Aug 8, 2013 at 15:52
  • I can see the temptation to "just separate accepting and awarding" because of edge cases like that, but it doesn't seem correct to accidentally enable us to not give the expected bounty in the most common scenario.
    – Jacob
    Aug 8, 2013 at 15:54
  • 3
    Some people might not want to award it immediately? Doesn't seem fair to a user who clicks the accept button and all of a sudden their bounty has been awarded. Maybe I wanted extra attention just in case.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Aug 8, 2013 at 15:55
  • Why wouldn't you wait for additional answers until the expiration/grace period is nigh?
    – Jacob
    Aug 8, 2013 at 15:56
  • 3
    @animuson what about auto-awarding bounties when they expire? Aug 8, 2013 at 15:56
  • One reason they should stay decoupled are the cases where you don't want to award the bounty to anyone. Aug 8, 2013 at 15:57
  • 6
    @JanDvorak They do get auto-awarded when they expire and the grace period ends. If an answer was accepted during the bounty period, it will automatically receive the full bounty amount. If nothing was accepted, the highest scoring answer of at least 2 is awarded half.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Aug 8, 2013 at 15:58
  • I still haven't understood the why of it, @JanDvorak. Why would you ever accept an answer without wanting to award your own bounty?
    – Jacob
    Aug 8, 2013 at 15:58
  • @Jacob you could state specific bounty conditions in the bounty (semi-stupid example: "Thanks for Jacob's great plugin, but is it possible without Javascript?") Aug 8, 2013 at 16:01
  • Ive had my answer accepted but annother answer awarded the bounty (grumble grumble) I believe because mine answered the question the best but the bounty awarded answer helped the asker more (by suggesting something completely different) Aug 8, 2013 at 16:18

2 Answers 2


From the Help Center:

If the bounty was started by the question owner, and the question owner accepts an answer during the bounty period, and the bounty expires without an explicit award – we assume the bounty owner liked the answer they accepted and award it the full bounty amount at the time of bounty expiration.

Unless something has changed and the help center hasn't been updated, the full bounty amount, not half, should be awarded.

  • I hope this is still true because this does look like the best behavior.
    – Jacob
    Aug 8, 2013 at 16:22
  • @Jacob I'm fairly sure that it is.
    – apaul
    Aug 8, 2013 at 16:28
  • 2
    This only works for answers posted after the bounty was started. See Bounty not awarded automatically — bug?; this doesn't work for answers posted before the bounty started but accepted after. Feb 18, 2014 at 14:46

Because bounties serve more purposes than just awarding the accepted answer.

Authoritative reference needed

Looking for an answer drawing from credible and/or official sources.

Canonical answer required

The question is widely applicable to a large audience. A detailed canonical answer is required to address all the concerns.

Current answers are outdated

The current answer(s) are out-of-date and require revision given recent changes.

Draw attention

This question has not received enough attention.

Improve details

The current answers do not contain enough detail.

Reward existing answer

One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty.

I suppose one could come up with some sort of logic matrix to automatically award bounties based on the reason chosen, accepted answer, upvotes, etc. but I think this would cause more confusion than benefit.

  • Still it sucks from the perspective who gave a good answer; which was accepted; even enhanced ... and simply because the questioner didn't get it ... the bounty was lost (like it happened to me over here: stackoverflow.com/questions/41013979/… ).
    – GhostCat
    Dec 22, 2016 at 7:58

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