Sometimes at work I have an immediate need to get an answer for a question. I have 3,000 points at my disposal so I'd like to just put a bounty on the question as soon as I post it to give it the highest possible chance of being seen. Why do I have to wait?
In Podcasts #26 and #34, Joel and Jeff talked about this. They didn't want a bounty to interfere with the 'normal' method of asking/answering questions. If you're allowed to offer it right away, then it has the potential to create an economy where people only focus on questions with bounties.
It's important to note that it's very rare (over 90% of questions are answered) for your question not to be answered. As far as getting it answered quickly, well that depends on what time you ask your question (All times UTC).
There is another issue here... IIRC, some of the voting options are disabled for posts with bounty - which has potential for abuse (although I believe ♦ moderators can still kill it if needed).
OK, in reality even under the current process somebody could radically edit their original post just before adding bounty, but it would be an obvious abuse, making it much easier for us to justify hitting delete.
However; I can easily imagine "what is your favourite pet's name for programming?" with a +50 bounty to prevent regular voting.
I have 3,000 points at my disposal so I'd like to just put a bounty on the question as soon as I post it to give it the highest possible chance of being seen. Why do I have to wait?
Why should you get to give your question "the highest possible chance of being seen" right away? Does your 3K reputation make you more important than users with lower rep? You shouldn't think of the rep you've accumulated as currency that you can use to buy a better position for your questions.
The right way to draw attention to your question is to spend some time writing a question that's clear, concise, and well-researched. High quality questions get voted up, which raises their visibility, improves your chance of getting solid answers, and increases your reputation all at the same time.
Bounties are fine for giving an extra incentive for people to spend time to help you find an answer to a difficult or obscure question, but only after time has shown that extra incentive is required.
Why not allow a +100 bounty with no contributions on behalf of SO (not 50:50). Sometimes if you ask a difficult or complicated question you just plain want to reward whoever gives you the answer (plus encourage people to invest the time). At the moment complex or difficult questions just drop off a lot of the time as there is less motivation to answer them.
Because you then get even more questions like https://superuser.com/questions/12442/where-i-can-get-free-cd-dvd-of-any-linux-distribution
I mean really? was the 100 rep bounty even necessary?
- First, there's enough Linux love around there that it will get answered in short order.
- Second, is teh Google failing you that bad?
Its because there aren't enough people to intelligently use the feature that it shouldn't get implemented as you suggest. I'm probably one of the few who think that while the bounty thing was a good idea on paper, human nature just kinda makes it not work right. (still on the first cup of coffee - for a more detailed and coherent answer see my answer to one of the initial bounty questions - or it might have been the blog post.)
That said, I've not seen many questions that don't get answers in the first 6-12 hours. The few that don't tend to be esoteric, or very technology specific, and in any case wouldn't significantly benefit from the bounty - except to attract people trying to post something to at least score the default position.
I don't ask many questions (3 in 7 months); I mostly answer them. That said, the reasons George (posting for the SO team) outlines are IMHO garbage.
Regarding people focusing only on bounties. All you have to do is look at the current list of bounty questions to know that's bollocks. There are a lot of bounty questions, there are also a lot of non-bounty questions. People answer both now, why would they change? Answer: they wouldn't.
Also, the graph shown doesn't really matter. So what if most questions are answered during those time periods. So what if most questions are answered within an hour or two of posting?
At the time of this writing I have over 40k of rep. Once I passed the 10k mark, there apparently is zero Rep related reason to keep answering questions. I do so simply because I like to help others; which I was doing anyway.
I'd love to put this into use.
How about having the MINIMUM bounty start at something like 1000 rep points. Every hour that goes by drop it by 20 points until 48 hours is up. This would certainly limit the number of people even willing to consider making an immediate bounty; unless it was critical to them.
One additional thing: George mentioned that 90% of questions get answered. Which is great; however I believe that 90% of questions out there are fairly simple ones. It's the hard ones that don't get answered. The hard questions generally involve a little more research plus domain knowledge. That should be worth something.
For example, if I have a question about an issue that is a high priority to me which may involve a responder writing code to solve then I would like to be able to reward them quickly on it. I know I've certainly had problems that if a solution was available within an hour then it would have been worth 2000+ rep points to me. In short, I'd rather trade rep points to get difficult problems solved faster than expending real cash on my own research time.
Perhaps something could be worked here so that the you could offer an initial bounty, but they would be featured differently, it wouldn't affect their front page rating and the site wouldn't match the bounty points, something like that. I agree you've earned the points and it would be nice if you could "put that to work", but I also understand what I think (from memory here) was Joel's point that you wouldn't want the site to become people camping for questions with bounty points, so I don't think it should be overly encourage. Maybe even the person could incur a penalty. I think the key if the feature was added would be to disinsentivise it to the point that it would be used sparingly.
I'm going to pull something that RLH said earlier in a comment out into an answer, because I think it deserves notice. Let immediate bounties happen, but put some sort of an overhead on it - enough so that the bounty transaction itself is a net rep consumer. (Say, twice as many points for the bounty as it's worth, minimum bounty of 100). If you wait the two days, you can go under standard bounty rules. This has the following effects.
Immediate bounties are inherently costly. They're going to take at least 200 points to throw out there. The effectiveness is much higher if you wait. Also, even being able to afford one in the first place indicates that you've been around for a little while, and have hopefully picked up a bit on how to write a good question. Possibly set a higher initial rep threshold (500, say? 1000?) to be more certain of that. Even if we don't open up standard close procedures, I'd think that a 1000+ point user blowing 200 points inefficiently for an immediate answer to a bad question would be rare enough we could afford a bit of mod time for it.
It won't break the rep economy, since swapping immediate bounties inherently takes rep out of the system. Anyone who wants to do it and keep doing it is going to have to generate a fair bit more rep than they're handing out.
It will allow a case where a moderately high-rep user who needs an answer to a high-complexity problem immediately can pay for one. It gives a certain class of experts a serious motivation to build rep - because they might want or need an immediate answer (or two, or three) some day. Personally, I fit into that group. I'd wince a bit at throwing 200 to 400 points at a problem, but there are times where I cannot afford to wait the two days.
...and in response to those who say "well, just hire a consultant" or suggest that we go to pay sites, it's not that simple. First, I honestly don't trust the resources at pay sites as much as I do the resources here. I know SO and use it frequently. I don't know the other sites. Second, I do not have money to spend elsewhere. I can build rep here, and then spend it just fine, but as soon a actual cash comes into the equation, the situation becomes far more complicated. Third, if it's a problem that's confusing and finicky enough that I can't figure it out after a bunch of poking at it, asking my coworkers, and a thorough web search or two, I feel like it would be better to have the answer out there - make life easier for the next coder who tries that web search.
There is a problem with this SO. If a question isn't answered in the first few hours, then it goes way behind in list of question ie making it almost unseeable through regular visits.
It also very unlikely that someone who knows the answer would search such a question.
I think SO can easily determine that 90% of the questions get answered in the first ~2hr or whatever it is, therefore having a bounty available after that period is over is a good idea. However with a 3 hour window, people would just say, let's wait just for 3 hrs and hopefully then the person would place a bounty so I think 24hrs would suffice. (12hrs is kinda ineffective because the person may be in a different timezone and it's also too early)