500+50 makes sense for a new site, filling up with users who aspire to have a couple of thousand points in reputation. But over a year later, with many users having 10k+, and some having many times that, is 500+50 antiquated? Should the bounty ceiling be raised a bit?

Would my 500+50 bounty really draw the attention of somebody with 60-100k?

If a high-rep user loses interest in answering-for-rep (since the largest bounties are trivial), what incentive do they have to go into the featured tab any more? Does it become the case that your bounty-question will draw the attention of lower-rep users, with a few exceptions?

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    I think the amount itself is not very useful. If it has the number with the blue background X users will try to answer it, and X is only marginally higher if the bounty amount is high. Regardless, increasing it would also facilitate abuse of the system (people having 2 accounts and therefore a daily cap of 400, and the nafter a while transferring - let's say - 5,000 rep with a single bounty, if it's just 1 no one will notice, see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/37096/…) – Thomas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 17:28
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    @Koper: That kind of abuse is already detected and dealt with. – GEOCHET Feb 3 '10 at 17:30
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    @Geoffrey: it was "detected" months later by a normal user, by chance, and the person in question did it with more than 10 accounts. I'm sure if he did it with just 1 (or even 3) he wouldn't have been caught. – Thomas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 17:34
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    @Koper: actually, just one account would have been fairly pointless - you can only upvote yourself so many times with one account, and it's pretty easy to detect. Plus, if he'd ended up with 2K rep on one account, he wouldn't have needed the whole bounty swap trick in the first place... – Shog9 Feb 3 '10 at 17:38
  • @Koper: Who cares? It was caught, it was deal with. – GEOCHET Feb 3 '10 at 17:38
  • @Shog9: I was thinking about a different kind of abuse. You have two accounts, which you use normally (without upvoting yourself which is a big red flag) to answer questions. You hit the daily cap on both every single day. After 25 days you have 5,000 rep on both, and (assuming this gets implemented) you open a bounty worth 5k rep, answer it with your other account, and accept the answer. Now you have 10k on your main account. Maybe it's a bleeding edge case, but nevertheless I thought it was worth pointing out. I just think allowing transfers of huge amount of rep can be dangerous. – Thomas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 17:41
  • @Koper: And someone would report him and he would lose all of it. So what is the point? – GEOCHET Feb 3 '10 at 17:43
  • @Geoffrey: How do you know it is the same person? Will you be reporting everyone winning a 5k bounty? – Thomas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 17:47
  • @Koper: I wont, because I don't pay attention to bounties. But we have seen many, many complaints about bounties. The higher the bounty, the more complaints. – GEOCHET Feb 3 '10 at 17:52
  • @Geoffrey Chetwood: What kind of complaints? Of right-out abuse or people complaining because they felt the bounty went to the wrong answer? – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 18:19
  • @Pekka: It doesn't matter as long as attention is drawn to the transfer. – GEOCHET Feb 3 '10 at 18:32
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    @Koper: FWIW, I don't disagree that there's potential for abuse. I think there's potential for abuse now though, and would just as soon see bounties eliminated... – Shog9 Feb 3 '10 at 18:43
  • I think I'd change "antiquated" to "obsolete" for clarity. Antiquated can also mean simply old, but the meaning you are trying to convey is the one that connotes obsolescence. – ベレアー アダム Feb 4 '10 at 13:19
  • +1 I don't like this but here's a sympathy upvote to offset the typical groupthink downvotes you get on meta. – Perpetual Motion Goat Feb 5 '10 at 9:49

I think that people with 10k+ no longer do it for the rep, they're already hooked, and would answer your question regardless of bounty.

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    But do they go into the featured tab anymore. If the aroma of rep no longer seduces them, why would they venture into the featured tab to see those questions? – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:19
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    @Jon, because if a question has a bounty, it's likely to be difficult, ergo, a challenge – juan Feb 3 '10 at 17:21
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    I've almost never gone into the featured tab. – Tyler Carter Feb 3 '10 at 17:23
  • @Downvoter: Sure, some people undoubtedly would stay fueled on a challenge-based system, but I think the majority answer for a reward in the form of reputation. Be it an integer by their name, or an abstract status held throughout the community - skeetness. – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:23
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    @Downvoter No, it's likely to be a badly expressed question, or one asked by someone that won't admit it's been asked multiple times before. – nb69307 Feb 3 '10 at 17:30
  • @Neil: in that case having a larger bounty wouldn't help anybody. – perbert Feb 3 '10 at 18:13
  • @The Big Cheese Precisely. So we may as well get rid of the whole sorry idea. – nb69307 Feb 3 '10 at 19:43
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    @Neil: but what about the odd well written, non duplicate, low views, extremely hard question? Those are the ones that I like love on SO when making a Google search. – perbert Feb 3 '10 at 20:01
  • @The Big Cheese An example? – nb69307 Feb 3 '10 at 20:29

A single good answer to one bounty question should not give a new user the system's trust equivalent of:

 2000 Edit other people's posts
 3000 Vote to close or reopen any questions
10000 Delete closed questions, access to moderation tools 

If they answer four 550 rep bounties better than anyone else, then I'd guess they're pretty good, but if bounties can go to 1k or more, then you're really giving people pushes that they may not deserve. Further, it increases the chance of and possible damage due to gaming the system.

Lastly, look at the distribution of bounties right now. Very few offer more than 200 rep. People are not chomping at the bit to offer higher rep bounties, and those in the 10k+ bracket that could offer 2k bounties simply don't ask that many questions.

From a snapshot of bounties currently offered now:

Bounty   Number offered
100      52
150      19
200      7
250      9
300      3
350      0
400      0
450      1
500      0
550      4

Bounty Distribution Graph

550 is still a significant bounty.

But the main reason to avoid increasing it is that a single bounty should not impart significant community trust.

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    "...and those in the 10k+ bracket that could offer 2k bounties simply don't ask that many questions." true, but as one of those who do, I would like to be able to put up bigger bounties. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 17:35
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    @Pekka - perhaps you can give some examples of questions with 550 rep bounties that weren't answered satisfactorily, that you believe would have been answered with, say, a 2k bounty. – Pollyanna Feb 3 '10 at 17:50
  • I'm thinking along the lines of questions where there is no single good answer, but rather a collection of best practices and experience. I have one question right now that I'm waiting to become able to put up a bounty for that I'd happily spend 1000 or 1500 points on - not because I think I'd get something with 1000 that I wouldn't get with 550, but because it'd increase the exposure of that question to the SO community, increasing the quantity of the input and in a few cases also the quality. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 17:57
  • @Pekka - I've found that bounty-ing subjective or poll questions is counterproductive. Yes, it yields more exposure, but you end up with a lot of duplication (because the bounty can only be awarded to the 'best' so it must include all the other "bests"). But I'll be interested to see how it works out for you. I've only done it for subjective questions a few times long ago. Perhaps the community is better able to avoid duplication and other similar problems. – Pollyanna Feb 3 '10 at 18:13
  • With subjective questions, I usually go by either the answer that gives me the most insight, or if there is no such answer, popular vote. I felt it worked quite well here: stackoverflow.com/questions/1812472/… and as soon as I can, I'm putting one up on this: stackoverflow.com/questions/2180460/… I was expecting a lot of noise from people trying to win it without having anything worthwile to contribute, and was surprised no such thing happened. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 18:21

I'd like to see bounties got rid of altogether. I can honestly say they have never motivated me to answer a question, and the fact that a question with a bounty cannot be closed seems to me to go against the basic ethos of SO.

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    Sounds like you meant to make a suggestion, not an answer. – GEOCHET Feb 3 '10 at 17:25
  • I agree with you but it's unlikely it will get rid of. It's more or less a core part of the SO engine. – Thomas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 17:30
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    I have successfully used bounties a couple of times to get more attention on my questions--I'm not always thrilled with the results but the extra attention is helpful. – Michael Haren Feb 3 '10 at 17:34
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    @Koper I hope it's not core. Core is something like the rep system. I don't know anything about the StackOverflow implementation, but if I had written it I would have something in a config file that looks like "ALLOW_BOUNTY = yes" which enabled or disabled the feature. – nb69307 Feb 3 '10 at 17:35
  • Considering it was added after the initial release, I doubt it's all that critical to the basic operation of the system. – Shog9 Feb 3 '10 at 17:39
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    I think bounties are great, but I'm not sure about the fact that they are not closeable. On the other hand, has that ever been an actual problem in a specific case? – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 17:39
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    @Pekka: search Meta. It's happened several times. Moderators can revoke bounties for just this reason. – Shog9 Feb 3 '10 at 17:41
  • @Pekka A couple of times I've tried to close questions with a bounty for the usual reasons - I never saved links to them, but I will the next time. – nb69307 Feb 3 '10 at 17:43
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    @Neil Butterworth To make a case for closing bounty questions, saving a list of links is probably a good idea. I know you will not agree with me, but I tend to be more relaxed towards the quality of bounty questions simply because of the fact that people have given something up to ask it - no matter how meaningful or meaningless the currency may be perceived as. As long as really offensive and bad stuff can still be shut down by flagging it (I didn't know mods can revoke bounties easily) I tend to think the system is o.k. the way it is. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 17:51
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    @Pekka You are right - I don't agree. By your reasoning, no-one should be allowed to upvote something I have down-voted, because I have "given something up" to downvote it. – nb69307 Feb 3 '10 at 17:58
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    @Neil Butterworth come on, you know what I mean. You can't compare the 100-500 reputation given up for a bounty to the one point you lose in downvoting something. You're comparing apples with oranges here. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 18:01
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    @Pekka When you get to the dizzy heights of SO (such as they are) you will find that 100-500 points are about as meaningful as 1 or 2. Actually, 1 or 2 are more meaningful - I always want to know the techincal reasons I get downvoted - the personal ones I don't care about. – nb69307 Feb 3 '10 at 18:07
  • @Neil Butterworth I'm quite sure that low-quality bounty questions are usually asked by people for whom 100-500 reputation is still meaningful. I highly doubt somebody > 10k would ask a badly worded or stupid question. Maybe border cases that are too business or legal centered, and would belong on startups.com, ok. But those get frequently reopened on SO as well, without a bounty. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 18:10

Once you break 10K, rep is effectively meaningless anyway: and more meaningless rep is still just as meaningless. Those who are into it as a way of keeping score or setting personal goals will still go for it, because there's still a 200-per-day cap on reputation gained for normal up-votes. So that bounty is a least three days of work, for a single answer.

  • 550 is over 5% the rep of a 10k user. That large of a bump seems somewhat attractive still. I'm thinking along the lines of users who are around 40, 50+ thousand. – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:25
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    I'll give you 2000 Shog Points if you post a better comment, right here, right now. They're intangible and worthless, but you'll have two thousand of them! – Shog9 Feb 3 '10 at 17:29
  • Considering recent comments by Joel/Jeff regarding Careers, reputation might be more valuable than you think :) It might just land you a job-offer. – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:32
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    It might just land you an incarnation of the St Pauli Girl on your doorstep, arms loaded down with beer and bratwurst... But it probably won't. :-( – Shog9 Feb 3 '10 at 17:35

I absolutely second this. A big bounty is a sign that somebody is willing to give up a few day's "work" (accumulated rep) for a question that is very important to them. I don't hink bounties necessarily get that much more quality answers - all the real veterans give a good answer anyway, bounty or not. But a bounty provides continuous exposure over a seven-day period across all time zones, enhancing the probability that everyone in the SO community who is competent to answer my question, no matter where they happen to live, get to see it.

I'm totally for keeping bounties, and for extending the cap to 1000 or 1500.

  • The current max is already 2-3 days of "work"...1500 would be a week's worth of work. – Michael Haren Feb 3 '10 at 17:34
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    Yes, and I sometimes have questions that I would be perfectly happy to give that much up for. Not often, but sometimes. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 17:37
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    Are not some questions worth a week of work? Don't some users spend days trying to solve problems? – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:37
  • @Micheal: you are assuming everyone hits the cap every day. An extremely small percentage of users do that. For the average contributors 500 rep is a week's worth of work. – Thomas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 17:37
  • @Pekka: I agree. I've spent a week working on a single problem in the past. If I could give up a week's worth of rep for the answer, I would. – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:38
  • If I could give up a day's worth of rep for a day's worth of work, I would do that in a heartbeat. Every day. – Shog9 Feb 3 '10 at 17:40
  • @Koper: True, but hitting the rep cap is quite easy to achieve with basic to solid knowledge in one of the more popular SO tags. It happens often that you "earn" 7-8 upvotes for pointing out some quoting error in the OP's code. – Pekka Feb 3 '10 at 17:42
  • @Pekka: yes, it does, indeed a very simple answer I posted today got 15 votes. But it's not that common. Sometimes you're unlucky and it takes hours and hours before you hit it, and great answers you post don't get upvoted. It's just luck, it does happen that one day you hit the cap with a 2 lines answer, but on average it does take some time. – Thomas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 17:46
  • +1 ... here's an example of a SO question where I tried to attach a second bounty (through a second question). The situation is edge-case enough to make it uninteresting for most people to look for a solution for, so to make it more worthwhile I'd like to attach a bigger bounty than just 500+50... Original: stackoverflow.com/questions/2190429/… && the closed 'bounty placeholder': stackoverflow.com/questions/2208341/bounty-placeholder – KristoferA Feb 8 '10 at 2:49

Since it is still the largest amount of rep that can be gained with one action, I think it still works for those reaching for higher rep goals.

  • It will attract users with smaller reps, but having myself nearly 30k, I rarely pay much attention to featured questions. – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:18
  • @Jonathan, yes I could see that, maybe we need a higher goal above 10k to keep people striving – Lance Roberts Feb 3 '10 at 17:24
  • There are unofficial goals. Mine has been to get on page 2 for the longest time. Recently achieved! New goal, Page 1. – Sampson Feb 3 '10 at 17:27

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