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How does the bounty system work?

I put up a bounty of this question.

The answer automatically accepted was some random one and not the most upvoted one. Why so? Is this a bug or am I not getting how the bounty system works ? Is it possible to change this to accept the one that had the more upvotes and not some random one ?

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Like Jeff pointed out in the link given by ChrisF, bounty will not be awarded to a question existing prior to the bounty.

If you want to award it to the most upvoted answer, you should accept it yourself, before the bounty runs out of time.

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    Also, allowing the system to pick the highest-voted answer instead of doing it yourself robs that person of half the bounty. If there is no good answer, this is fine, but it's definitely bad practice when there is a correct answer. – mmyers Jan 25 '10 at 16:27
  • @mmyers: this was an open question, so the best suited answer would be, in that case, the one with the most upvotes – marcgg Jan 27 '10 at 14:19

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