I've been having a lot of trouble getting good answers out of SO lately without offering large bounties. I make a very big effort to make sure I ask clearly articulated questions with well defined steps, and also to respond to comments asking for clarification immediately.

Unfortunately, it has reached a point where even bounties don't attract good answers any more. I have put a bounty of 100 rep on a question recently that has attracted two responses that don't even really qualify as answers as they make it clear the respondent has not even read the question.

I'm stuck in the position where I have to offer bounties to even get a bad answer, and for that privilege I have to keep slicing off bigger and bigger chunks of my own rep. If I don't get any upvoted answers in the bounty timeframe, I don't see why I can't have my bounty back. In that situation, once I get the 100 rep bounty back, I'll almost certainly offer 200 rep. If the 200 rep bounty doesn't get me anywhere, maybe it's worth 300 to me. Under the current system, that costs me 600 and I may not even end up with an answer after that.

Yes, I could game the system (though not much, by my estimation) by never upvoting any of the answers on my bounty questions, but the collaborative nature of SO voting should rectify that - someone else will probably see the question (especially with a big bounty on offer) and upvote a good answer anyway.

Also, it could be set up so an answer made during the bounty period but accepted outside of it with no modifications gets the bounty anyway, which would get around the case where people wait until they have their bounty back before accepting an answer.

You could then game that further by never accepting answers, but then your accept rate would plummet and I certainly wouldn't touch your questions any more...


4 Answers 4


I can find only two questions that you put a bounty on that didn't result in an answer. On this one, you commented "This is a great suggestion and in the absence of anything simpler, it's the way I'll go". But you didn't award the bounty nor marked the answer. The other one still has 3 days left on the bounty.

Is this a real problem? Maybe you can document it better?

  • There was also this one, but it looks like he's 4 for 6 for getting answers for bounties (not counting the still open one), which isn't bad Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 10:46
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    I ended up awarding the bounty on the jquery one because I appreciated the effort. I have not accepted the answer as I did not feel it answered the question and the solution didn't end up working anyway. I got distracted by other things and didn't follow it up, though I probably should. It's not only my own questions that have given me the impression that led to this. I'm also not convinced this you have actually offered an answer, it's more a critique of my history on the site. Take me out of the frame and consider the question on its own merits please.
    – Shabbyrobe
    Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 12:40

The doxygen question looks like a good but fairly specialized question. Getting answers to specialized depends on the right people seeing them. Unfortunately I've never gotten the impression that we have a large community of doxygen experts (only 260 questions tagged which makes it considerably less active than ).

That might have been one better taken to the doxygen support facilities (web site, mailing list, issue tracker, whatever...).

I suppose this is a change for some enterprising soul to take it to the mailing list for you and cash in...

  • But this is again about my own individual experience with the site. Please see my first comment on Hans Passant's answer.
    – Shabbyrobe
    Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 23:56

Bounty refund with moderation should be taken into consideration. If a bounty is started on a question which has tags with meagre followers then I don't think quality response will be given to that question as the volume of users answering or posting such questions are very few. I've never started a bounty on any of my questions then also I am answering this question which doesn't make me much qualified to answer this question. But I answered it because I never feel starting a bounty will fetch me quality response.

IMO, bounties should be started on questions of high complexity and the tag popularity should be above a certain threshold so that user is even guaranteed a reasonable response. High complexity is a parameter which is next to impossible to calculate but tag popularity can be decided on the basis of followers and amount of activity prevailing on the site pertaining to that tag.

I maybe ignorant about some traits as I am member on SO since 2 months only but I am inquisitive about this site.


One of my question with a bounty of +50 got the attraction of just only one person, i never got the right answer, but the bounty expires. I am agree with Shabbyrobe, if there is no good answer the bounty rep should go back to the user.

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    Actually, it now says: viewed 195 times, while Google's cache of 3 days ago (when the bounty had one more day to go) states viewed 134 times. So at least 61 views, most likely even more. Sounds good to me, for just 50 reputation.
    – Arjan
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 17:44

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