Relatively often, while browsing bountied questions on Stack Overflow, I notice bounty posters ‘looking for an answer from a reputable source’, except that the question body poses a fairly specific how-to problem, for which it is rather unlikely that there is actually a ‘reputable source’ (a formal specification, best-practices book or whatever) which can provide a direct answer. Here’s an example:
So when I look at the question, for a few moments I am confused as to what the bounty criteria actually are. And I think I know the reason for that happening.
When starting a bounty, the bounty category dialogue box has the possible reasons listed alphabetically, and the first option ‘Authoritative reference needed’ is selected by default. I suspect a careless person starting a bounty will simply blindly click the ‘next’ button without even looking at the bounty categories just to get it over with.
I think this is a flaw in the software, and that’s where it should be fixed. The default should be ‘Draw attention’, or something comparably generic. (It could be changed so that there is no default option at all, but I fear it will instead encourage picking the reason at random, causing even more confusion.)