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If someone starts a bounty and doesn't manually award it, the Community User should award 50% to the highest-voted answer.

However, that did not happen on this NetworkEngineering.SE question.

Interestingly enough, the same user started a bounty at roughly the same time on this Electronics.SE question, and Community User correctly awarded half the bounty.

Unless I'm mistaken, this is a bug... since we have a solid comparison from the same user on two different sites, on the surface I assume it's related to being in beta...

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No, this is not a bug. Neither answer qualified; both had been posted before the bounty was started.

The post history shows the bounty was started on Jan 29 at 15:04, but the two answers were posted on Jan 25 at 13:14 and Jan 27 at 13:42.

The detailed bounty FAQ states:

Otherwise, if there are eligible answers, the highest scoring is awarded half the bounty amount. The criteria for an answer to be eligible are:

  • The answer must have been given after the bounty was started

Emphasis mine.

This is entirely and the behaviour doesn't differ between beta and graduated sites.

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