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I know that the bounty guidelines state that bounties are not cancellable for any reason. This makes a lot of sense to me and it's a good default setting. But I'm thinking specifically about a situation I am facing on this question. The lone answer was posted before I started the bounty, and it does not address enough items for it to be worthy of collecting the bounty. However, no other responses have appeared.

In cases where the bounty fails to generate adequate answers due to total lack of responses, would it make sense to just cancel the bounty? I don't get to benefit unfairly by both having an adequate answer and also having my reputation refunded. Whereas if I can't cancel the bounty, I'm just facing a reputation loss as a consequence for trying to motivate interest in a question that community found uninteresting (for any reason).

Would it be easy to implement a cancellation option under the specific scenario that, after the bounty is created, no new answers to the question appear at all?

If not, what is the specific rationale in this case? Does the community want to penalize for not writing a question that, according to the preferences of other community members, is sufficiently interesting to merit effort on a response? Why wouldn't we just close those questions as not constructive and no reputation changes would take place?

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You might do better to ask this question on meta.SE (or perhaps have it migrated); the bounty policy is system-wide. There is nothing we (including CV's moderators) can do about it here. On meta.SE you might get some attention from the developers, who could address this, if they so desired.

For what it's worth, I sympathize with your situation. This does seem like a reasonable request. However, it's also true that the bounty policy is clear, and it's clear that you lose the bounty even if no one answers, see here:

A bounty does not guarantee a response, however, and reputation refunds are not available if no answers are received as a result of the bounty.

Which is about as clear and on-topic as I can imagine. Sorry.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 So much is clear, indeed. I agree it sucks, and to EMS I say good luck with trying to convince the PtB otherwise. I think more bounties should be encouraged, and I fail to see how returning your bounty would invite gaming the system (or at least returning most of it - why not give 80% back if there are no answers between the issuing of the bounty and the deadline?). You'd still have to supply even more reputation to re-bounty it, so I don't understand the problem. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Aug 2 '13 at 7:31
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    $\begingroup$ I agree it is clearly stated, just hoping to start a dialogue about possibly changing it. I will post on meta.SE. $\endgroup$ – ely Aug 2 '13 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ There's much point to this in so far as no interest shown by others is a zero, not a negative. But some reading e.g. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/76137/bounty-with-no-answer suggests that change is extraordinarily unlikely. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Aug 2 '13 at 22:57

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