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Edit: The grace period on this bounty ended around around 7 hours ago with no automatic award per the rule mentioned in the original post so I'm wondering if there is (a) a significant lag between the time the grace period ends and the time the bounty is auto-awarded and/or (b) a glitch in the bounty auto-award system. Does anybody know from experience?

I've edited the title to reflect this modified aim - this reflects somewhat of a shift in the direction of the question but I didn't think it was different enough to warrant creation of a new question

Original post: I recently answered a question with a bounty on it and the owner of the bounty (also the asker of the question) accepted my answer here. There are no other answers to the question but the owner did not manually award me the bounty. Now, I've found in this thread on meta SO and in the bounty FAQ the following:

"If ...

  • the bounty was started by the question owner
  • the question owner accepts an answer during the bounty period
  • the bounty award period expires without an explicit award

... then we assume the question owner liked your answer when they accepted it, and it gets the full amount of the bounty at time of bounty expiration."

The bolded part (which was bolded in the thread I'm quoting) is what my question is about. The bounty expired a couple of hours ago and meets the three conditions but was not awarded to me at the time of expiration. I'm not worried because it appears I will get the bounty after the grace period, but I guess what I'm asking is: was this an error, or was the poster on Meta SO taking the FAQ material too literally? I'd also be curious to know what would happen if the bounty owner were to unaccept my answer now - are all bets off or does it only matter that it was accepted at the time the bounty closed?

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Expired bounties are awarded hourly. In addition, we wait for another hour after the grace period has ended (just to make sure that e.g. rounded time values don't cause a user to be two minutes too late). Note that this is just the documentation of current behavior; obviously don't rely on this.

Summing up these two, there may thus be a delay of up to two hours between the end of the grace period and the auto-awarding.

The 16 hour delay that happened in this very case is not supposed to happen; it was due to the fact that the service responsible for scheduled tasks (like auto-awarding bounties) was down for while. The bounty was awarded as soon as I had brought that service back online (if you compare the time stamps, you'll notice that I posted my answer on Meta.SO shortly after the bounty was awarded).

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I'm guessing the poster on meta was taking the FAQ too literally. What would be the point of giving the bounty owner a grace period otherwise? Incidentally, the same thing happened to me a while ago, and the bounty was given to me by SE after the grace period ended--not by the bounty owner. (In addition, I don't think it was right at 24 hours--maybe a couple of days later--I don't really remember.)

If the OP unaccepted your answer, I'm not sure what would happen. As I read the FAQ, the owner would lose the points, but you would not get them (at least as it stands now), because there isn't an answer with $\ge2$ upvotes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re: "If the OP unaccepted your answer, I'm not sure what would happen. As I read the FAQ, the owner would lose the points, but you would not get them (at least as it stands now)", but the whole "during the bounty period" clause seems like it would still hand me the points, and that's the question. Also, I think that's a good practice not to vote on things you can't say definitively are good/bad answers :) I do the same. $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 5 '12 at 11:03
  • $\begingroup$ The purpose of a grace period otherwise may be to give the bounty owner some chance to think about which answer they want to award the bounty. In this case there's only one answer, which the owner accepted, so it seems like there's nothing to be decided during the grace period, which is why the bolded part in the post I quoted was of interest to me $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 5 '12 at 13:43
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I've determined the answer to my revised question. I'll post it here since I was unable to find a satisfactory answer on Meta SO or any of the other meta sites that popped up when I did a google search of this problem. It's still not clear what would happen if the bounty holder had unaccepted my answer during the grace period.

The answer to "updated" question above is:

Yes, there can be a substantial delay after the grace period before the bounty is auto-awarded. In this case there was around a 16 hour delay. You can tell whether the bounty was auto-awarded (or won't be) once the bounty label is removed from the bottom of the question (where it goes along the bottom border). Before this border is removed, the bounty is not "resolved" yet.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I thought I remembered that the bounty was actually awarded some time after the grace period ended. $\endgroup$ – gung - Reinstate Monica Jun 7 '12 at 4:39
  • $\begingroup$ @gung Well it's good to have this documented now. I found one thread on Meta SO that indicated it could take 4-5 hours tops but now we know it can take as much as 16 hours. $\endgroup$ – Macro Jun 7 '12 at 12:14

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