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:

How to create a custom month picker in react native?

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.

The dialog box listing bounty reason. The option ‘Authoritative reference needed’ is listed as the first and selected.

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.)

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    +1 This is a flaw in the software. There is no good reason to have the default as “Authoritative reference needed”. All the reasons (except “Reward existing answer”) imply that the bounty-giver wants to draw more attention to the question (otherwise they could just use edits or comments), so it would be reasonable to set the default to “Draw attention”. Mar 27, 2021 at 12:06
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/q/111966/879265 Mar 27, 2021 at 12:12
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    “bounty criteria actually are.” - There isn’t any criteria. The author can select any answer for the bounty or none at all. They have 100% control over the selection.
    – Ramhound
    Mar 27, 2021 at 12:31
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    @Ramhound If there were no criteria, this form would be completely superfluous. But it isn’t: the poster may choose any answer they wish, but usually they set up the bounty because they seek a specific kind of answer. Just because they aren’t always formally specified doesn’t mean there are no criteria. That the dialogue box is ineffective at establishing what they are is a flaw in the software. Mar 27, 2021 at 12:44
  • @user3840170 - You asked what the criteria is for the bounty. It’s whatever the person offering the bounty wants it to be. There are numerous meta questions on this topic. QED. I have literally wrote in the description, because I despise bounty hunters, what my criteria was and they still complained they didn’t get awarded the bounty. My criteria literally was any answer submitted before my bounty was offered. Authoritative answer seems clear to me
    – Ramhound
    Mar 27, 2021 at 12:49
  • It seems the problem is with the default. Perhaps if there is no default, but a selection is required, that would work better. Or maybe the default should be "draw attention". @Ramhound I understand that you may be diligent at this, but I suspect others are inattentive or lazy and don't bother to properly answer that question. I'm looking at a question right now -- one that I would answer without a bounty -- for which there can be no authoritative reference. The nature of the question is so specific that a knowledgeable developer would need to apply creativity to answer it.
    – dougp
    Nov 8, 2021 at 18:36
  • If I needed an answer by some reputable source, I'd try to contact this reputable source directly. To ask in stackoverflow or other sites by chance seems to be the wrong strategy, even with some bounty. How will I decide that the person who answered is indeed a reputable source? Dec 3, 2022 at 20:51
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    @SaschaDoerdelmann I suppose it may make sense for sources that are not easily accessible by the general public (*cough* *cough* ISO standards *cough* *cough* MISRA *cough* *cough*), statements from sources that are easily recognised as having some authority, but are not easily searched for (e.g. statements by designers found on mailing lists, in meeting minutes, etc.) or particularly dense, difficult-to-interpret sources (compare <stackoverflow.com/a/66816471/3840170>, where I had to cross-check several documents). Though otherwise fair point. Dec 4, 2022 at 19:40


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