60

A question is eligible for bounty 2 days after creation.

Probably because

New questions don't need to be bountied, since they already show up in the New tab and the Active tab and so on (and thus get attention anyways)

according to that post.

But reality is different

In the first 5 minutes after asking you get the majority of views. That has probably changed over time*. The view counts drop due to the heavy amount of new questions - thousands every day!

If you don't get an answer in the first minutes then you have to wait 2 days to put a bounty on it.

Please either remove the bounty delay or reduce it dramatically to an hour or so.

* Of course that query does not factor in that question lying around for years have more views than new ones. But the tendency is given IMO.

  • 37
    This is really only a concern on SO and to a lesser extent the other high volume sites. Would it be possible to configure the bounty delay on a per-site basis to account for this? – psubsee2003 Dec 6 '13 at 11:23
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    +1 from me, but only for stackoverflow. Works OK on Drupal Answers. Also, 2 days to prevent bounty on offtopic question and bounty's anti-close effect is worth it - on sites where closing is fast. – Mołot Dec 6 '13 at 11:27
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    It depends, smaller tags get a slower following, for example JMonkeyEngine is a tag I follow and I will read all the questions on it. But not continuously, if it's a question I can answer I'll probably answer it within 24 hours or so – Richard Tingle Dec 6 '13 at 11:30
  • @RichardTingle: But even then it wouldn't hurt to earn a bounty by that. – juergen d Dec 6 '13 at 11:32
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    @juergend but it may hurt if people will feel they are obligated to post a bounty to get an answer. – Mołot Dec 6 '13 at 11:49
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    Like others have mentioned, it would be best if this functionality could be configured on a per-site basis rather than applied to all. On the lower traffic sites (ie: most of them), 2 days is fine. I can see this leading to an effect of feeling the need to put a bounty on a question to get an answer though, which may be detrimental – Flyk Dec 6 '13 at 11:49
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    I think the idea is that you can't instantly buy your question attention. You have to wait two days, so your question gets the same treatment as everyone else's. – Chris Dec 6 '13 at 11:51
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    2 days are for calm down and consider, if you really need a bounty. Sometimes you find solution yourself withing 2 days. – Danubian Sailor Dec 6 '13 at 12:25
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    Also note that if you remove this limit there will be a ton more bountied questions, which means bountied questions won't get nearly as much attention. It reduces the effectiveness of the system if a huge percentage of questions have bounties. – Servy Dec 6 '13 at 20:37
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    @ŁukaszL. I completely agree with some points above, however, I'm not their author so I don't feel to make it an answer. Especially: "It may hurt if people will feel they are obligated to post a bounty to get an answer." (with all those rep-hunters here, having much more bounties is a bad precedent) and "2 days are for calm down and consider, if you really need a bounty". I would add a 3rd one: "Many questions on SE/SO are bad and/or un-answerable. Improve your question, it will bump it up again." – yo' Dec 8 '13 at 18:58
  • My upvote tries to reward the wish to change anything here. – peterh Jan 30 '15 at 13:18
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    I'm kind of infuriated that this still hasn't been addressed, almost two years later. It is still a prevalent problem on SO, especially on 'hot topics',—like django and angular. – user293534 May 30 '15 at 6:33
  • I've just registered on meta to ask exactly the same question. – Glen Swift Oct 21 '16 at 0:58
  • just remove bounties – Kevin B Jun 20 '18 at 19:03
28
+150

I see some rather interesting arguments here, specifically when applied to the high volume sites and most specifically Stack Overflow. Things move very fast here and when something falls off the front page, it could be lost forever. But at the same time, the smaller sites do not have this problem, so it seems that lifting the 2 day waiting period for those sites is unnecessary.

I think the best solution would be to consider a per-site configurable delay. You can leave it at 2-days for most sites, and then adjust it based on question volume for the high volume sites, but I would not go any lower than 6 hours. Anything less than 6 hours is just overkill, you'll end up with too many "instant bounties", most of which will be from help vampires and students with homework due in 3 hours. Plus, for reasons I'll go into next, the community needs time to appropriately handle the question.

Quicker bounties opens up another problem related to off-topic (and/or just plain bad) question with bounties (and the "URGENT HALP NEEDED" questions). It is tough to get a bad question closed in less than an hour at times, so you could end up with situations where a question picks up a few close votes very early then the bounty gets put on before the community can actually close it. Plus, I've seen references to users using a bounty to make their question close-proof* in some cases, and I think the usage of this method would increase. Someone sees their question has picked up a few close votes, so they'll throw a bounty on it to help keep their question open.

In order to make this workable, you would need to do at least 2 things:

  • Prohibit early bounties on any question with at least one vote-to-close or flag-to-close. These questions can still be bountied after the normal 2 day wait
  • Allow bountied questions to get closed without needing a moderator. Maybe allow higher rep users (10K) to remove & refund a bounty if a question has close votes.

*- We know it isn't really close proof, but it is harder to get a bounty question closed since you need to get a mod involved.

  • 8
    Possibly also don't allow early bounties on negatively-voted questions too. – Joshua Dwire Dec 6 '13 at 16:17
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    This question is half a year old and nothing has moved yet. Any chance of still getting this implemented? – MarioDS Jun 19 '14 at 12:39
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    Although there is no causal contact between the help vampirism and the reputation, but on my opinion nearly all of the help vampires are very far to collect the needed reputation for a bounty. And if they do, what's then? They will get a long, meaningless essay, and lost a lot of repu. – peterh Jan 30 '15 at 13:21
  • I don't have a problem with less than 6 hours. This is not going to be a persistent problem with "help vampires" simply because it costs reputation. If someone keeps doing it, they'll run out of reputation. If someone has the reputation to keep doing it, they probably aren't help vampires. – Jason S Apr 1 '15 at 17:22
  • @JasonS that is a fair point - but ignoring that, you still need to give the community time to moderate the question since the bounty will block closing (without other changes to the system). And I still think the "specialness" of the bounty is somewhat lost when you can add one right away, but that's a minor issue. – psubsee2003 Apr 1 '15 at 18:03
18
+50

I like this idea. But I do not think it should be completely removed. Perhaps scale it.

12 hours requires at least a 250 point bounty
24 hours requires at least a 150 point bounty
36 hours requires at least a 100 point bounty
48 hours requires at least a 50 point bounty (current design)

This way it will still be uncommon to immediately post a bounty on a question. I think Servy makes a good point when he says "Also note that if you remove this limit there will be a ton more bountied questions, which means bountied questions won't get nearly as much attention". Scaling could be one way to combat that.

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    +1 I like the scaling idea. I think it's solid. – Benjamin Gruenbaum Dec 21 '13 at 22:16
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    I would propose this, except that the amount of bounty does not depend on time, but on the amount of reputation the OP has. Only 50 would be awarded for the answer (as currently), but the OP may spend reputation to remove or lower the timelimit. – Stephan Bijzitter Feb 3 '16 at 17:13
15

I've occasionally found myself in a situation similar to what perhaps the OP must have felt when he created this question. And yes, I can empathise with the tingling and burning for good answers, and the desire to put a big bounty out as soon as possible to get that high-quality answer you're after.

But then I remember that nothing of importance can truly be that urgent. If your question is actually good, let it sit for a while, and you may be surprised by how many good "free" contributions you're already getting without the bounty. If you still want more, or want to reward an answer that has already come in by that time, you can set the bounty after two days and all is well.

But most importantly, I think the two-day delay serves to make sure that you are still interested in the question. It's a good cool-down period both for the asker and the answerer. A bounty encourages people to put extra work and effort in, but good SO questions live and die with the interaction of the community, and especially with the original poster. So when someone goes out of their way to research for a bounty question, the effect for the community is best when the OP is active on that question. And if you're really willing to commit that much to your question, then you should still be interested and there for it two days later.

  • 5
    If your question is actually good, let it sit for a while, and you may be surprised by how many good "free" contributions you're already getting without the bounty That is a nice line but I don't think that happens a lot. Mostly you won't get answers days later. – juergen d Dec 6 '13 at 13:00
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    @juergend: My experience is rather to the contrary, but it may depend heavily on the subject. – Kerrek SB Dec 6 '13 at 13:04
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    There may be a difference between questions that are "interesting and difficult" and require detailed research, and questions which "solve a problem the OP needs to get done and is willing to pay for" but aren't really that interesting. – Kerrek SB Dec 6 '13 at 13:05
13

Can I suggest that questions become eligible for a bounty once N newer questions have been posted? Where N is a number to be determined by experience.

The interval could have upper and lower bounds - say minimum 30 minutes, maximum 48 hours. So eligibility would always be within that range, and if N new questions came in at some time within that time range, that would determine when the bounty became possible.

  • So, if N questions come in in less than 30 minutes, bounty is possible after 30 minutes.
  • Else if N new questions come in in less than 48 hours, bounty is possible after the Nth new question.
  • Else bounty is possible after 48 hours.

Advantage: by setting it in that manner, it would automatically self-regulate over time, and across sites.

Disadvantage: it will no longer be possible to give a definitive time after which it would be possible to set a bounty. It would be more like: "you should be able to set a bounty in 6-8 hours, depending"

  • On SO or overall? I don't know if I should leave it without a vote, or downvote ;) – Mołot Dec 6 '13 at 12:45
  • The problem with a set N is it doesn't scale well. You are effectively setting 1 rule for Stack Overflow and a different rule for every other site, or you are setting N low enough that Stack Overflow bounties are almost instant. – psubsee2003 Dec 20 '14 at 23:47
  • +1 for scaling idea and as a help for @psubsee2003 to understand a clear concept. – peterh Jan 30 '15 at 13:23
11

At the moment, there is a site setting we can manipulate to change the time a question needs to be on the site before a bounty can be started. That's the good news. The bad news is that units are integer days. So we can easily reduce the period to 1 day or eliminate it altogether. However, changing to hours instead of days would require code changes. Since I'm not convinced the bounty system does much more than increasing attention, I'm reluctant to ask a developer to make that change.

From a theoretical point of view, it makes sense to delay bounties by more than a few hours. As you mention, most votes occur within a few minutes of asking. Depending on the tag, questions are answered in a matter of hours on most sites. On Stack Overflow, I suspect most answerers are looking at tag pages, which have far fewer questions a day than the site as a whole. As a result, most questions don't need bounties to get views and answers. If we allow immediate bounties, it will encourage people to give up reputation for no good purpose. But after a couple of days, it's reasonable to assume an unanswered or insufficiently answered question has been forgotten. At that point, a bounty seems more likely to make a difference.

  • @hichris123: Let's suppose this is a five minute change. (I don't know, of course. Nobody has made the attempt.) How much longer will it take to test? How do we know the change will achieve its goal? For that matter, what is the goal here? In other words, if the setting had been easy to change, I'd probably consider an experiment. But given I can't do that without taking developer time from other projects, I'm not disposed to try. Them's the breaks, I'm afraid. – Jon Ericson Oct 24 '16 at 20:27
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    Code change is trivial; your second paragraph is the take-away here: we shouldn't need bounties on the vast majority of questions. There are massive downsides to the bounty system, and while they're occasionally warranted, a system where questions need to be bountied quickly is a system that is fundamentally broken in ways bounties cannot fix. Jeff declined a similar request 6 years ago and I another 4 years ago for more or less the same reason. – Shog9 Oct 24 '16 at 20:47
  • I think it's more of a question of the front page not being useful for very busy places like SO. @JonEricson brings up a very good point about tag pages, and I think there may be good reason for that. The topic area covered by SO is so broad that it takes a titan of a software engineer to know the majority of topics covered to even a level of competence. Maybe if you offered users the ability to exclude a list of common tags used recently, it might be a way to tame the fire hose some by excluding areas outside a members interests/expertise. – BenPen Oct 25 '16 at 14:03
2

The problem with the fire hose pace of posts on hot boards like SO is twofold; There is likely an imbalance between the number of askers and answerers, but a larger effect, as understood by the long time denizens is that of quality. If a question does not meet a quality standard, a minimum level of polish and applicability for those who would ask a similar question in the future, it is likely to be ignored, as it does not contribute to the larger body of useful and high quality questions. Now, if the quality aspect is met by a question, yet questions don't reliably get multiple answers before 2 days, then there aren't enough experts answering questions.

There are many ways to try to address this, but one thing is that we need to make sure that we are not chasing experts away, and more, since they are incentivized by answering good questions (not clear that voting up/down is a clear sign at the moment) we need to make sure that bad questions are voted down correctly with suggestions on how to improve, and perhaps if a question is voted up, it lasts longer on the front page. However, even this may not be sufficient without different question voting incentives/guidelines; it seems like questions currently mostly get voted up when there is a healthy number of answers, so, it's more like an activity rank, and it's hard to distinguish good questions from bad for less active questions.

The concern over quality is MUCH greater than over number of contributors, and applying a Bounty does not immediately effect quality: only if the asker interacts with any who leave comments and increases quality is it any more likely to contribute to over all value of the site.

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