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Similar to "StackExchange could offer Bounties on old questions" but I'm suggesting this be done without user input, so not based on nominations but purely on stats on the question.

Specifically, I'm proposing that the system generates occasional bounties on questions that meet the following criteria, and when there aren't more than a couple of other active bounties on the site:

  • posted more than 2 months ago
  • highly-upvoted
  • no answers (or maybe no recent or upvoted answers)
  • above-average views?

Candidates on BH.SE for example, are easy to find starting with this list. The top question there sparked some interest and plenty of votes, but has now dropped off the radar and will likely remain unanswered. This is something that tends to happen with the more difficult questions on a technical site like BH: we'll vote up the good question but just never find the time to devote to a worthy answer. A bounty would:

  • provide that little bit of extra incentive
  • increase the visibility of the question for longer that a @community bump
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    @iStimple on which site? If you are talking about SO, it won't ever start a bounty there by the criteria I've listed: "when there aren't more than a couple of other active bounties going on" stackoverflow.com/?tab=featured – Jack Douglas Aug 13 '14 at 9:10
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    @iStimple also, the community user rejection is not really an automated process, it's just an edit conflict as result of two humans editing in the same time. Agree about bad audits though. – Shadow The Dragon Wizard Aug 13 '14 at 9:18
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    "Community User rejecting perfectly valid edits" @iStimple? That isn't a thing afaik. It only takes responsibility for the resolution of clashes and the like. It's not actively rejecting anything. – Bart Aug 13 '14 at 9:19
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If individuals want to draw attention to questions, they should place bounties. That's worked well on most SE sites, and since it only takes 75 rep to offer a bounty it's unlikely that there aren't a bunch of users who can do so.

Perhaps you are driving at a different issue: any particular user isn't especially interested in any particular question, but through some vague sense of "making the community better" you want there to be bounties. One way to manage that with tools already in place would be to start a meta post to collect nominations of bounty-worthy questions, and then encourage people who are willing to drop 50 or 100 rep to browse that list and pick something. I think the Christianity site did that a year or two ago; you might check with them. Alternatively, you could collect a list of people who are willing to offer bounties, and then let people ask those people to look at specific questions. You could feed that from a query if you like.

I don't think you need to manufacture rep from nowhere, nor do I think that's a good idea. If your community can't motivate people to offer their own rep, or if there are no questions people find meritorious, you have deeper problems and Community-funded bounties won't help you. (This is a generic "you"; I'm not talking about the OP or his site in particular.) On the other hand, if what you need is for bounties to occur to people as an option, if you need to raise bounty awareness, you can do that without altering the system.

Why should Community fund bounties if the community is unwilling to?

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    Hmm, interesting suggestion with the bounty-worthy questions list meta post. I recently did something similar by starting a challenge for answering any old unanswered questions, promising a bounty for the highest-voted answer. – Christian Rau Mar 13 '15 at 9:44
  • @ChristianRau good idea. Please let us know how that works out (do you get bounty-worthy answers, does it encourage participation, etc). – Monica Cellio Mar 13 '15 at 13:01
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    Thanks, will do. After 5 days it already garnered ~12 answers, which is at least way better than previous topic-based question challenges we had (I guess answering is indeed easier than asking), though mostly from avid core users, I think. The answers also aren't all stellar, often the questions are unanswered because they're a bit hard to answer clearly. But there are some good answers among them. New answers to old questions naturally tend to get noticed less, anyway. But I'll see what is when the two weeks are over. That's it by the way: meta.movies.stackexchange.com/q/1700/49. – Christian Rau Mar 13 '15 at 13:13
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Where would the rep come from for these bounties? The old system added rep to bounties but that was discontinued when the bounty system changed to allow multiple bounties and adding bounties to other people's questions. So having a system which created new rep from apparently nowhere would appear fly in the face of this.

NOTE: I'm not against the idea per se, but I think you'll have to justify creating new rep for these bounties if you want this to be implemented.

Currently you could add bounties to these questions yourself. Yes, it takes your reputation, but if you are a moderator you don't need huge amounts of rep to be able to moderate and in any case you'll soon earn the reputation back if you are active on the site.

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    Bounties are offered by people because they're willing to sacrifice some of their rep in order to solve their problem. However in this case I think community can sacrifice some of its (arbitrary) rep in order to solve the problem of having unanswered questions sitting around. It's in the benefit of community to have a site populated with answered questions. Besides, rep itself is arbitrary; dished out from nothing. Why does it have to come from somewhere for this? – JonW Aug 13 '14 at 10:36
  • @JonW - true, the rep could come out of thin air, but I'm playing devil's advocate here :) – ChrisF Aug 13 '14 at 10:39
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    @ChrisF - any bounty gets 50 bonus rep from the ether anyway. Rep isn't a zero-sum game, so autogenerated bounties of a few hundred rep aren't going to hurt anything, and might encourage folks to dig into some deeper issues to find an answer. – ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Aug 13 '14 at 10:51
  • I'm not a moderator on BH - but not sure that makes any difference to your argument which applies equally to other users? – Jack Douglas Aug 13 '14 at 11:10
  • @JackDouglas - ah. My apologies. – ChrisF Aug 13 '14 at 11:16
  • @ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells - is this still a thing? I thought that had been discontinued. – ChrisF Aug 13 '14 at 11:17
  • it has been discontinued – Jack Douglas Aug 13 '14 at 11:47
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    Reputation is a fiat currency. All reputation originally comes out of thin air, so it makes absolutely no sense to ask "Where would the rep come from?" -- it comes from the same place as all other rep. – Ben Lee Aug 16 '14 at 17:36
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    Now, one might be concerned about reputation inflation caused by increasing the rep supply too fast, but that would be a really silly concern, IMO. – Ben Lee Aug 16 '14 at 17:38
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In the end, reputation is about popularity. Bounties are a way to lend your popularity to another person out of gratitude. Unpopular, but useful patterns are what badges are for.

So IMHO the solution is rather a gold badge for people who answer old unanswered questions. Maybe you can make your proposal for an "highly upvoted question" version.

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