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Recently, there's been an uptick in flags requesting that questions with bounties be closed. Mortals can't close these, so it's an acceptable use of the flag system.

If the bounty is brand new, it's fairly clear cut: refund the bounty, close the question.

However, if the bounty has been on the question for a while, it's likely that a few users have written answers. They probably did this because of the bounty. It doesn't seem fair to deprive them of reputation that they thought would be theirs and give it back to the asker - even though the asker did get answers in 'exchange' for their reputation.

This leads to some weird hacky 'rules', like declining flags if the bounty is more than three or four days old.

In these cases, it would be nice to have a button to 'kick' the bounty system into immediately awarding the bounty. It should go to whomever it would have if the bounty had expired 'naturally', and possibly refund if none of the answers is eligible.

This would let us give answerers credit for their work, and close questions as they come up in the moderator queue.

Thoughts?

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    There's an argument to be made here that "they just shouldn't have answered close-worthy questions". If that's the case, let's just make a clear policy that moderators can and will refund those on sight, even if there's only thirty seconds left before the bounty is awarded. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jul 14 '16 at 13:46
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    So, a user writes an answer to a close-worthy question, and does that purely for rep gain. And SE should develop a feature to encourage this behavior. Did I get this right? – user315433 Jul 14 '16 at 14:02
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    @Bookend The alternative (current system) is that the asker gets reputation back, and still gets the community's time and everything else that a bounty 'buys', just because their question is crap. I'd rather encourage people to answer these than to encourage bounties on crap questions. Throwing the whole bounty down a black hole would also be an acceptable option. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jul 14 '16 at 14:06
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Heh... You know what happens to a bounty when a question is deleted? It gets refunded.

And what is closing, if not you saying that the question is inappropriate and should probably be deleted?

So you want a feature that takes control of the bounty away from the owner so that you can indicate it should be refunded instead of just refunding it...

  • If the question is so inappropriate that it clearly has no future on the site, refund and close.
  • If it can be edited to salvage it, then do that for the sake of these answers you're concerned about.
  • If it isn't all that bad and you don't feel like editing, decline the flag & tell the flagger to edit it themself if it's bugging them so much.

Related

  • Allow users to vote to close bountied questions

    Four years ago when I answered that feature-request, this was an obscure edge-case; in the time since, it hasn't really become more common. I proposed a much simpler solution back then (raising an auto-flag), and if the issue now is simply one of prioritizing these that would still suffice. I'd leave that in the hands of the moderators to decide, since to be effective they'd have to jump on these flags in the way that they do Spam flags. If that's something they're willing to do, we can implement it. It would generate, on average, about 4 flags a day on Stack Overflow.

  • Would you ever consider giving bounty moderation to non-mods, maybe as a new rep privilege? If there is in fact "an uptick in flags requesting that questions with bounties be closed," then maybe the mods could use some help as well as new tools. – JAL Jul 14 '16 at 14:11
  • @JAL There's not enough of an uptick to justify that, yet. Drop in the bucket compared to many of the other categories. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jul 14 '16 at 14:15
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    So you want a feature that takes control of the bounty away from the owner so that you can indicate it should be refunded instead of just refunding it... Actually he wants a feature that takes control of the bounty away from the owner so that he can indicate it should be given to an answer, instead of the bounty owner, or destroyed completely, instead of just refunding it. So no, that isn't what he was asking for... – Servy Jul 14 '16 at 14:57
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    If the question is so inappropriate that it clearly has no future on the site, refund and close As has been brought up before, this is rewarding people for putting bounties on bad questions. The proposal is designed to allow mods to not reward this harmful behavior. That seems like an entirely valid concern. – Servy Jul 14 '16 at 14:58
  • That may have been the intent of the proposal, but that's not what's actually proposed, @Servy. – Shog9 Jul 14 '16 at 15:48
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    @Shog9 The question seems pretty clear in saying he wants the ability to have the bounty awarded to who it would go to if it ended right away, instead of to the bounty owner. That's not just his intent; it's rather explicit. In these cases, it would be nice to have a button to 'kick' the bounty system into immediately awarding the bounty. It should go to whomever it would have if the bounty had expired 'naturally' – Servy Jul 14 '16 at 15:53
  • Which accomplishes nothing, @Servy. If you want the bounty to expire naturally, you can just do nothing; if you want to prevent future answers, you can lock. Before you go telling me about the problems inherent in both of those solutions, I agree - they'd be dumb, pejorative overreactions in most of not all cases... But then, so would this. This isn't complicated; either the question is bad and should be closed and deleted, or someone's just jealous over a bounty and they can deal with that themselves. – Shog9 Jul 14 '16 at 16:28
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    @Shog9 But it doesn't accomplish nothing; it removes an incentive to bounty low quality questions, and provides incentives for people to only put bounties on good questions. That seems like a rather useful feature. Your assertion that refunding the bounty to the bounty holder is no different than not doing that just isn't the case. You put the mod in the position of needing to either refund the bounty, to close the quesiton, or letting the bounty play out, preventing the question from being closed or deleted. The mod can't do both. – Servy Jul 14 '16 at 16:33
  • You're imagining someone like you, who understands the system well, carefully weighing the cost/benefit and choosing to place a bounty on a question they know is crap, @servy. You're picturing this person reading this status-completed feature-request and saying to themselves in effect, "curses! My plan is foiled." I rather doubt any of these assumptions are accurate. – Shog9 Jul 14 '16 at 16:44
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    @Shog9 I'm not making either assumption. I'm assuming that the users are going to just put bounties on questions they want answered, assuming they have the rep to spare, without even considering whether or not the question is appropriate on SO. If they do this on bad questions, and end up losing a bounty or two, they're much more likely to take a few seconds to consider whether or not a question they're considering putting a bounty on is appropriate, for fear of losing their bounty once again. – Servy Jul 14 '16 at 17:09
  • I'm AFK right now, @servy - mind querying SEDE to see how many people have had their bountied questions closed twice? – Shog9 Jul 14 '16 at 17:15
  • Apparently you do mind. Fine. I did: data.stackexchange.com/stackoverflow/query/512504/… - 79 people, @servy. Could probably call them on the phone with less work than implementing this change. – Shog9 Jul 15 '16 at 16:43
  • If you're main objection is that this whole issue comes up rarely enough that it's just not worth bothering with, then make that argument in your answer, instead of writing an answer to say that the proposal would literally not change anything. If you understand what the change is proposing, and why it would be helpful, but feel that it's just not worth the effort for a niche case, then that's an argument I'm fine with. – Servy Jul 15 '16 at 17:15
  • My main objection is that it's completely pointless, @Servy; I thought I made that clear in the answer here. The proposed change does absolutely nothing of value, and adds complexity (both to the moderator workflow and to the already poorly-understood bounty system). At this point, I'm just addressing your increasingly poorly-researched arguments. So are we done here now, or are you gonna come back with something else? 'Cause if you're planning on the latter, click that link I posted and learn to query the data, and come back with at least a few anecdotes to help support your assertion. – Shog9 Jul 15 '16 at 17:20
  • Your answer is arguing that it just doesn't change anything; that the behavior is literally identical to the current behavior. That's just wrong, it is a change. It is only in your last few comments that you've argued that the change simply isn't of value, because it comes up too infrequently to care. The former indicates that you simply didn't understand what the proposal is asking for, the latter is a perfectly fine response that I don't have a problem with, except that the response is buried at the end of a comment chain instead of in the answer. – Servy Jul 15 '16 at 17:27

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