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There has been a lot of discussion over the years on making Stack Overflow (I know this is the Meta site that concerns all of Stack Exchange -- please bear with me) a more welcoming environment. And much of this has been centered on inappropriate behavior. But I believe the purpose of gamification in making the Stack Exchange sites more interesting, involving, and welcoming has started to get lost in this discussion. It seems to me that with all the focus on clarifying rules and following them to the letter of the law there is no room for human error or lost intent. I think a small way to move the pendulum slightly back towards a kinder environment might be to create small, but rigid, mechanisms to bend rules if the intent warrants them. I am wondering if creating a bounty award process review queue might address this.

This thought came about as a result of this answer:

Answer to "word object model - active document event when clicking on FILE"*

*Full disclosure: I created this answer. I am NOT pushing to change the results here, but rather raising an issue that might affect new and inexperienced users of Stack Exchange sites in a way that would make them less likely to return

The question had a bounty and the answer was posted on the last day of the bounty. The day after the one-day grace period expired, the person who asked the question marked this answer correct and then commented "did you get the bounty?"

After I post this I will comment back to the OP of the answered question about the bounty rules, grace period, and link to this Meta post. However, it seems rather against the grain of what the Stack Exchange sites are tying to become not to have a mechanism that promotes good intentions among its members.

Now I personally believe the grace period should be extended to at least five days. Worldwide pandemic, upended lives, economic stress, and much more, do, in my opinion, make a strong case for more flexible rules in general. So barring an extension of the bounty grace period (discussed and dismissed in the past), I am wondering if we could create a somewhat rigid bounty award process review queue with rules such as:

  • A bounty review can only be requested by the person posting the bounty
  • The request must be placed within five days of the expired one-day grace period
  • A short reason must be given why the bounty was not awarded manually within the one-day grace period
  • If the reviewer deems this credible, he awards the bounty points to the person the bounty poster would like to receive them

A lot of the above could be automated and enhanced with on-screen/email reminders to the bounty poster. And again, this is a compromise for those who really feel the bounty needs to be more strictly enforced (wherein I am of the mind that if the bounty poster wants you to get the bounty, you should get the bounty). I think offering more carrot and less stick would be beneficial, not only to Stack Overflow, but to Stack Exchange overall.

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    Welcome voting rings. Where you post an answer on the grace period of a bounty, pressure the OP into starting a review process by stern comments and have a friend ready to review and award you the reputation. This leaves way to much room for gaming the system. Also what problem does this solve? One had several days to post an answer while the bounty was pending. Posting it during the grace period makes your answer not qualify for it, which is pretty obvious by the rules of the bounty system. We can't make people read the rules, if they chose not to, they can get struck by them....
    – Luuklag
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 20:03
  • "I am NOT pushing to change the results here" - Even if you were pushing to change the results, there isn't anyone can do, your answer was not eligible for half the bounty when it expired nor was it awarded the bounty before the grace period ended.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 21:41
  • @Ramhound I clearly state in my post "...the answer was posted on the last day of the bounty." So it was eligible. Though the point I am trying to make is that there should be more compassion for new and inexperienced users.
    – joeschwa
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 23:06
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    @joeschwa - You misunderstood my comment it wasn’t eligible to receive half the bounty automatically since it didn’t have enough upvotes. I further stated the author also didn’t manually award the bounty. What does compassion have to do with bounty system? How I see it the bounty system did exactly what it was designed to do, draw attention to the question of an expert, who was able to answer the question. Before their nearly 1,000+ reputation worth of bounties they nearly have more reputation than you on SO.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 29, 2021 at 23:09
  • @Ramhound I did misunderstand. Apologies. And I do not understand your comment about "their nearly 1,000+ reputation." However, when a new person comes to a site, crafts an answer, it's marked correct, and doesn't get the bounty, does it encourage that person to continue contributing? When someone wants to award a bounty and makes a mistake and cannot do so, does that engender love for the site? Different people will have different reactions, but I can tell you that many I have encountered online and IRL find SE sites unwelcoming. This is but one aspect that can enhance that perception.
    – joeschwa
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 3:18
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    The user who offered the bounty had offered more than 1,000 reputation In bounties. They are not a new user. They know exactly how a bounty works after 9 years. You have been around for 9 years also
    – Ramhound
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 12:03
  • @Ramhound Length of time on the site does not always equate with familiarity. The bounty poster actually wrote in a comment "I'm sorry for causing this trouble, is there a way to fix it?" I also was not familiar with this bounty rule, despite my length of SO membership and having previously placed/collected bounties. However, this really comes down to worldview. I am clearly in the minority here. The reaction to this post on Meta is a microcosm of my concerns. As of this date 16 downvotes. If a new user posted this and received this reaction, a return to the site would probably not be likely.
    – joeschwa
    Commented Mar 30, 2021 at 19:31

1 Answer 1

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Absolutely not

What's the point of a bounty period then? Who knows if the requester is making up an excuse for their forgetting to award a bounty or if they're actually telling the truth?

How can a reviewer decide yes or no? An extension request is completely subjective, with no proper way to decide on the right answer.

This can only lead to abuse of the system, in multiple ways (such as voting rings).

It will also create a tangle, with random extension requests floating around the review system. Who knows who has the bounty or when they will get it? See, confusing.

Lastly, I assume this would take a huge amount of work to program a frankly not-needed feature when the time and effort should be spent elsewhere.

If you forgot to award a bounty, too bad. You had seven days + grace period + multiple email notifications. That's on you for forgetting. You knew very well at the beginning that those points would never come back to you. Sorry.

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