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I would like to start a bounty but I am hesitating because I am confused as to the rules about awarding the bounty points.

From the FAQ it states: [emphasis mine]

If you do not award your bounty within 7 days (plus the grace period), the highest voted answer created after the bounty started with at least 2 upvotes will be awarded half the bounty amount. If there's no answer meeting that criteria, the bounty is not awarded to anyone.

Which implies that only new answers can be awarded bounties. Is this true?

But in this link: How does the bounty system work? There is this question: Can I award a bounty to an old answer?

Yes, you can award your bounty to any answer on the question. This makes it possible for users to reward particularly good answers with more rep than a standard upvote would provide.

So before starting this bounty, could someone please clarify. Thanks.


EDIT March 18 2014

Can I divide my bounty (in theory they're my rep points) between two or more deserving answers? I am speaking about this question. So far there isn't one outstanding answer, but I am generally satisfied with the quality of responses I have received. Some answers are more detailed than others but may contain minor inaccuracies, whilst others have kept to the point but ignored the more open-ended question. What to do?

  • Mari-Lou, your new question is just that: a new question, and it should be posted as such. – Marthaª Mar 18 '14 at 21:41
  • Ack! Never mind, @Marthaª I can't be bothered to ask a new question. In any case this one is related to a bounty, my bounty, and the two questions are not entirely unconnected. This is hardly a POB type of list, is it? I only wanted a confirmation. – Mari-Lou A Mar 18 '14 at 22:33
  • They're "not entirely unconnected" in the sense that they're both about bounties and they're both by you, but they really are two completely different questions. And the answer to question number 2 is, I believe, "No"; a bounty is indivisible. However, I believe that you can initiate a second bounty on the same question after your first one has been awarded. (Though as I recall there is some limitation regarding the size of the bounty, something like "must be at least twice as big as the last bounty you offered on this question".) – Hellion Mar 20 '14 at 21:54
  • Thanks @Hellion, I guesed as much. As for awarding a second bounty, you're right about the size of the bounty, it doubles every time. I ain't gonna offer 300 points for a post which answered only in part my question(s). – Mari-Lou A Mar 20 '14 at 21:59
  • And by the way, the answer to your additional question is contained in the link that you originally included. ;-) – Hellion Mar 20 '14 at 22:04
  • Yes... and no. No mention of it being indivisible. I think a case could be made for promoting this as a possible option, no more than three answers can share a bounty, the minimum has to be 50 points. Would it work? Would it be popular, fair, sensible? – Mari-Lou A Mar 20 '14 at 22:15
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You can award a bounty to any answer not posted by yourself on a question (in theory, you can award the bounty to yourself, but the reputation would be cancelled rather than awarded). As such, you can award a bounty to an old answer.

The FAQ is referring to the automatic award. If you do not award a bounty before the seven days are up, the system will automatically award half the bounty amount to the answer with the highest score posted after the bounty, assuming it has a score of at least 2. The reason for this is that in most cases, bountiers are looking for new answers, so the system will do its best to encourage users to post answers to bountied questions.

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    Thank you for answering. Perhaps that snippet of info should be added to the FAQ just to avoid any future ambiguities. :) – Mari-Lou A Jul 18 '13 at 22:10
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    How would you suggest that the FAQ be updated? As you quoted it, it already starts with "If you do not award your bounty within 7 days". – Hellion Jul 19 '13 at 18:13
  • @Hellion By adding the answer to: "Can I award the bounty points to an old question?" – Mari-Lou A Jul 21 '13 at 5:34
  • If a user set a substantial bounty and no one posted an answer within 7 days limit, it seems unfair that the bounty offerer should lose his/her rep-points. The same if there was only one new answer but without any upvotes. How could he/she award the bounty if that posted answer isn't liked by anyone? – Mari-Lou A Oct 26 '13 at 7:14
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Too long for a comment, so I will propose the following re-wording of the bounty FAQ:

Current text:

How is a bounty awarded?

The bounty period lasts 7 days. Bounties must have a minimum duration of at least 1 day. After the bounty ends, there is a grace period of 24 hours to manually award the bounty. Simply click the bounty award icon next to each answer to permanently award your bounty to the answerer. (You cannot award a bounty to your own answer.)

If you do not award your bounty within 7 days (plus the grace period), the highest voted answer created after the bounty started with at least 2 upvotes will be awarded half the bounty amount. If there's no answer meeting that criteria, the bounty is not awarded to anyone.

Proposed modification:

How is a bounty awarded?

Once you have started a bounty, you can award the bounty to any answer by clicking the bounty award icon next to that answer.

The bounty award icon will not be available until 24 hours after you have posted the bounty, and will remain available until you either award the bounty or until 24 hours after the bounty period has expired. (The bounty period is 7 days, so you can award the bounty any time from 1 day to 8 days after you posted it.)

If you do not award the bounty within the allotted time, it will be awarded automatically: the highest-voted answer with at least 2 upvotes that was created after the bounty started will be given half the bounty amount. If there's no answer meeting those criteria, the bounty is not awarded to anyone.

  • It's a good addition and clarifies the issue. My only quibble is that I would put 'any' in italics, as in: to any question. – Mari-Lou A Jul 22 '13 at 19:28

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