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How does the bounty system work?

On this StackOverflow question: facebook: why I can't send email from app to user? my answer was accepted and awarded a bounty.

The bounty was 500. The question asker had 500 rep deducted.

I was awarded 275 rep for the bounty. Why?

Was it an auto-accept after bounty expiration? If so, why wasn't it for 250 instead of 500? I thought auto-accept bounties were half. It does say on the question that the author accepted my answer though.

  • Was you sure that it's 500 and not 550? – BalusC Mar 22 '10 at 18:32
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    "The bounty was 500. The question asker had 500 rep deducted." -- Not possible, as the system adds 50 points to the bounty amount. – Jon Seigel Mar 22 '10 at 18:33
  • See: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/16065/… – Shog9 Mar 22 '10 at 18:38
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    I think I get it. The full bounty was 550 (500 from the asker and 50 from the system) and I got half of that, so it must have been an auto-accept? It says the question owner accepted my answer yesterday, and the bounty was also awarded yesterday. Does that mean it was accepted by the owner after the bounty was auto-awarded? Or do auto-accepts appear the same as if the owner explicitly accepted? – Pat James Mar 22 '10 at 18:39
  • @Pat auto-accept alt text appears the same as if the owner explicitly accepted. It is unfortunate in your case since the owner did not accept it in time before the bounty expired, which would've given you the full amount. In either case the owner forfeits their rep immediately, so it's not in their best interest to avoid selecting an answer (ie. no gaming). – Ahmad Mageed Mar 22 '10 at 18:45
  • Yes, auto-accepts appear the same. The only way to get 275 points from a bounty is through an auto-accept, so that must indeed be what happened. – mmyers Mar 22 '10 at 18:46

The user added the bounty for 500 reputation points, and the system added 50.

The system always adds 50 reputation points to every bounty.

  • Thanks I understand the 550/275 math adding up now, which implies it was awarded as an auto-accept. Do auto-accepts still say "The question owner accepted this as the best answer yesterday."? Seems like it should say something different if it was an auto-accept, or that it should say the bounty was awarded and then say the owner accepted it to reflect the sequence of actions, if that is in fact what happened. – Pat James Mar 22 '10 at 18:48
  • @Pat, You could suggest that in a different question – juan Mar 22 '10 at 18:49
  • Ahmad's comment above resolved my last question about this. The alt-text does make it a bit confusing. – Pat James Mar 22 '10 at 18:50

The bounty is 550 and the auto-accept grants you half those points, thus 275 points awarded. As I mentioned in my comment, the owner forfeits their rep as soon as the bounty is placed so it is not in their best interest to withhold selecting an answer (ie. gaming the system isn't possible in this manner).

It is likely they didn't get to it in time to select it or neglected to do it. The SO team does have some notifications in place when the bounty is almost up in the form of emails and banner notifications (if memory serves me correctly) to encourage the OP to select an answer.


I'd like to see the system changed so that 50 rep is restored to the asker after manually accepting a bounty. I think this will make the system more deliberate, and also allow for setting a much longer period before expiring bounties (30 days vs 1 week, for example).

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