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:
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:
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?