One of the tools moderators have available to encourage and reward high-quality participation (and beneficial behaviours in general) is to set and award bounties.

For example, in addition to their standard uses of drawing attention and rewarding model answers, I use bounties on Database Administrators to:

  • Encourage great self-answers (something our experts don't do enough).
  • Reward consistently good contributions in under-represented tags.
  • Bring to attention answers that went 'beyond the call of duty' in important ways, such as rescuing an initially poor question through a terrific edit, before adding a super answer as well.
  • Attract expert users from the wider community that do not currently participate (enough or at all). Moderators have a role to play in advertising the site and attracting high quality members as well.

The issue of how moderators can improve participation and change a less-than-positive attitude toward some tags came up in our recent moderator election. One of the methods I called out was using the bounty system. The aspect to this is the responsibility of a moderator to encourage positive contributions and behaviour patterns - leading by example. On smaller sites, bounties are much less common than on, say, Stack Overflow.

The limit of three concurrent bounties should be further relaxed (perhaps even removed) for moderators, so there would be no artificial limit on the number of 'encouragements' we could promote at the same time. Moderators should be trusted not to abuse the bounty system, so the main purpose of the limit does not really apply.

Personally, as an active contributor as well as a moderator, I find I still earn reputation faster than I can spend it on bounties. Reputation is largely meaningless for a moderator (from the point of view of unlocking abilities anyway).

For clarity, I'm not saying all moderators ought spend their 'spare' rep this way, just that the system should allow them to do so if they choose, without being restricted by the three-bounty limit.

  • As an lower-volume 'expert' site, we do get model posts more frequently than might be the norm. We would like more, of course, especially self-answer wiki contributions, as noted above.
  • Being able to give 1500 rep per week presupposes the maximum award is offered each time. In many cases, this would be overkill (doubling existing rep or even more). We should choose an appropriate bounty level given all the circumstances. Often 100-200 is the optimum level for us. Also, it's not about using the rep earned - it's about the positive effect it has.
  • There is no danger of overwhelming the site with bounties. I'm not Jon Skeet. Also, please consider that moderators would be aware of this risk and act accordingly.
  • How are bounties essential to a moderator's duties, though? – Jamal Aug 31 '15 at 3:29
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    I'm not buying the rationale for making this a "moderator" privilege. If it's about trust, make it a "trusted user" privilege that is earned by reputation, like other privileges. – ff524 Aug 31 '15 at 6:48
  • Why can't regular users promote and reward good practices in their communities? I'm just not buying it. There are some abilities that should be limited to a small number of users who sign a moderator agreement (for privacy reasons), and some abilities that are necessary in order for moderators to effectively act on that private information, but I don't see any reason why this needs to be a moderator-only privilege. – ff524 Aug 31 '15 at 7:04
  • I don't see a need for it at all, actually. (I'm not a huge fan of bounties; on my site I see a lot of low quality answers posted when someone offers a bounty.) But I'm definitely against any proposal to restrict a potentially useful new ability to moderators only, without a very good reason for the restriction. – ff524 Aug 31 '15 at 7:10
  • Well, presumably you at least think it's potentially useful :) – ff524 Aug 31 '15 at 7:15
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    +1 from my point of view. I think encouraging members to give quality content will always be a good approach. In addition, moderators should be allowed to give appreciation or award or bounty to the good contributor. I am totally in favor of @paulWhite. – Zerotoinfinity Aug 31 '15 at 11:26

I don't think this is necessary.

Moderators' rate limits are removed in a number of places where it could potentially be necessary to fulfill duties as a moderator. However, everything else remains functionally the same.

Since bounties aren't related to being a moderator, there isn't a pressing need to increase the number of available bounties for moderators.

In response to the edit, I think you have an interesting idea on the use of bounties. While I can see how bounties could be used as a moderator, I still don't think it's necessary to raise the limit.

  • This type of modeling is the same type the community can do already. While drawing attention to examples of model questions/answers is a good role to take on as a moderator, it's not critical to the moderation process.
  • Are the questions you're putting bounties on really examples of truly model posts? Most sites - even Stack Overflow - don't receive truly phenomenal posts with particularly high frequency.
  • You can already give 1500 reputation per week out with the bounty system. Unless you're a bona fide wizard, consistently earning more than 1500 rep/week is phenomenally difficult on most sites.
  • Constantly giving out bounties decreases the significance of the bounty system.

I might instead suggest rewarding bounties on the occasional spectacular answer? Or, perhaps, keeping one bounty out to acknowledge and draw attention to something in particular you think people would be better aware of?

While I think you've got an interesting idea for encouraging specific behaviors, also remember that the significance of a bounty decreases the more of them there are.

  • Truth be told, I do see what you're saying, I'm just having trouble envisioning a situation in which more than three bounties at a time would be needed to mark model questions. Is it possible to, well... wait a week? – user206222 Aug 31 '15 at 4:22

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