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I read lots of good, useful answers, and I up-vote them.

On occasion I read an exemplary answer. An answer so clever, insightful, and/or illuminating that I want to revisit it to read again and again. An answer so good it makes me want to undo my other up-votes because, by comparison, a "useful" answer is just "acceptable." I can't favorite it. The only thing I can do to distinguish it is to award a bounty. Except I can't do that untill:

  1. The question is 48 hours old, and
  2. I've waited 24 hours since deciding to post the bounty.

The bounty system as presently designed is poorly suited to this purpose. I don't want to award a bounty to get the question into the "featured" queue. I would like to give the answer that little blue number, and then be able to find it under my "Offered Bounties" list. And this disconnect gets to another significant obstacle:

  1. I can't award less than 50 rep to an Exemplary Answer.

It makes sense to require something substantial to feature a question. But as an instantaneous recognition of an answer 50 points is pretty pricey.

If all sites were functioning as designed – with a decent number of users prone to voting and reading – then the system would "work" and these exemplary answers would tend to float to the top. But the reality on many sites is that even many active users don't vote often. And exposure is quirky: If a question goes hot, or hits a search-engine sweet-spot, then even mediocre answers can accumulate dozens of votes. If not, exemplary answers may only be read by a handful of the most fanatic users.

We have a broad "rep deficit" compounding inadequate recognition of exemplary answers.

Active users can toil for years, providing dozens of good, accepted answers, and still only end up with a few thousand rep. A few 50-rep "exemplary answer bounties" could mean the difference between being able to continue to work on the review queues and make direct edits, or being pushed back into "probation" for weeks (or months). A 10-rep bounty, on the other hand, might not be such a deterrent.

Proposals to implement favorite answers, and also proposals that would enable smaller instantaneous bounties for exemplary answers, appear to have all been declined.

Is there any other mechanism by which we might publicly recognize exemplary answers without potentially rep-crippling ourselves in the process?

  • 10 rep bounties are free; they're called up votes. – Laurel May 31 '16 at 17:13
  • @Laurel - Right, and they're for "useful" answers. I'm looking for ways to distinguish and track "exemplary" answers, noting that the bounty system (given its current constraints) doesn't seem to be geared for that purpose. – feetwet May 31 '16 at 17:16
  • I think the concern is that if this feature existed, it would lead to more examples of fraud, at least on some sites. I've seen this proposed before on MSO. – Laurel May 31 '16 at 17:20
  • @Laurel - I would be surprised if I'm the first to raise the question. Any links to previous suggestions or questions that might have answers explaining how such features could be bad (or do more harm than good) would be much appreciated! – feetwet May 31 '16 at 17:23
  • Here's one, but it's not the one I was originally remembering: meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/284245 – Laurel May 31 '16 at 17:30
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    50 rep is not really that pricey, in the scheme of things. It's 25 suggested edits, or one good answer. – ArtOfCode May 31 '16 at 17:34
  • @ArtOfCode - Perhaps, when things are working well. Suggested edits are only "easy" rep sources when one has low rep and on sites that don't frown on cosmetic edits. And I have been active on sites where a typical good answer is fortunate to even get a vote, much less to get both a vote and accepted. In that scheme of things using the bounty to recognize exemplary answers is like "one step forward two steps back." Not surprising it's so rare. Unfortunately data.stackexchange.com doesn't appear to reveal bounties by type. – feetwet May 31 '16 at 17:45
  • Welcome to Sharepoint. Here are some free stats: 0 great answers, 49 good, 515 nice. 0 great questions, 27 good questions and 324 nice. 38 Mortarboard - no epic or legendary. 100 Civic Duty... Your idea is nice, but I do wonder how much it would really help "low rep site". Users that are still in the 5k ranges after years of contributing will not be very open to waste even more points to give out free bounties... and the ones that have enough points to spare are probably to few to make a difference. Anyway, +1. – BlueSoul May 31 '16 at 18:05
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    @SPArchaeologist - Good point: That would suggest that any potential solution should not take away users' rep. Even at some rep cost I would use this, just as I now occasionally pay the full 50pt bounty cost to recognize truly exceptional questions by newer/lower-rep users. (And this even though I'm below trusted user rep.) But you're right that this feature may not be widely used: Right now I'm the sole source of over 10% of all votes on a graduating site! That was a dismaying discovery.... – feetwet May 31 '16 at 18:27
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The time restrictions built into the bounty system are important counters to bounty fraud, which unfortunately is a thing. Reputation transfers from one account to another need to be visible. Further, when I offer a "reward existing answer" bounty I want it to be visible for the full week; if I think it's good enough to deserve an extra reward, then I want other people to see it and possibly upvote it too.

However, consider community-driven efforts instead. On Mi Yodeya we have a quarterly contest (example, including rules explanation). (Other sites do this too; I'm picking the one I'm most familiar with.) . Yes, somebody needs to "fund" it with bounties, but in addition to the bounty for the winner, collecting nominations for "best answer of $time_period" in one place draws attention, and votes, to them. You could propose this idea on your site's meta and see if there's community interest, including co-funders.

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