I asked a question 7 days ago - no answers - so I assume no one knew how. So I added a bounty to encourage answers - still none. I then, after days of research, found how to do it and answered my own question.

But here is the killer - the 50 reputation I put up for bounty I've now lost, despite no one else answering, and despite me actually having the answer. It seems wrong that I would be "punished" by solving my own problem when no one else could!

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    Bounties pay for advertising, not necessarily for answers. – Monica Cellio Mar 12 '18 at 16:06

The bounty would not have been returned, whether you answered your own question or not.

All bounties are non-refundable.

Without that simple rule, bounties can be easily exploited:

  1. Have your question highlighted on the featured page by offering a bounty.
  2. Receive excellent answers from people who invest the extra time/effort.
  3. Issue your own answer simply to get a "refund" on the bounty, denying others of their hard work.
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    FYI, there is no bounty award when you accept your own answer. The bounty owner gives up 100% of the rep bounty in all circumstances. – Jeff Atwood Nov 30 '09 at 3:19

As a recent duplicate brought this issue up again, I want to give a more complete answer.

The purpose of a bounty is to provide advertisement for a question. That is what you are paying for in terms of reputation. Similarly, awarding the reputation to one of the answerers exists to provide an incentive for them to provide answers. An incentive beyond the usual incentives that exist on the site.

However, the OP is a special case. Why? Because the OP already has an incentive to seek out an answer to an unanswered question: they have a problem that needs solving. That's why they asked the question to begin with, and that's why they put a bounty on it.

Awarding them back their bounty for successfully doing the thing that they were already going to do is not really providing any special incentive.

Ultimately, the bounty system is a way to incentivize others to help you. That is its purpose; giving you the bounty back if you managed to help yourself does not make the system better at this purpose. You provided an incentive, but your actions later rendered that incentive moot. That's fine, but you don't get to get it back.

  • I understand that perspective; but if the incentive failed to contribute any further discussion from the community and the original questioner was able to do what the community could not; AND the original questioner has supplied the answer back for future people who may need an answer to the same question - then it seems to me that the original questioner deserves some reward. If anything, there might be an argument that people might be willing to spend more reputation, if they knew there was less risk in doing so. Perhaps a partial refund is not completely undeserved in this circumstance? – Ash Apr 11 '19 at 22:17
  • @Ash: A reward for what they would have done anyway? Unless you're saying that, if they had never put a bounty on the question, they wouldn't have posted the self-answer. People do post self-answers even without providing bounties. – Nicol Bolas Apr 11 '19 at 22:37
  • A reward for SHARING what they would have done anyway. It's not the solution thats being rewarded, it's the sharing and writing up of that solution that may help others, that I am suggesting may need a reward. It's great that people post self-answers; but many people don't. Given that the reputation is removed immediately when the bounty is offered - I maintain that perhaps even a partial refund is not totally undeserved. It's ok if you disagree; I'm just providing my opinion. – Ash Apr 26 '19 at 0:24

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