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Who is using the "bounty" system? In principle, it seems a great tool but implementation looks overly complicated (there are many rules on when and how to use bounties). So, it would be good to know whether this feature is really effective, before spending time trying to figure out how it works.

Are there statistics on usage and how it impacts response rates?

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    $\begingroup$ I personally don't understand why you need to wait a set amount of time. I feel like if you need help urgently, then a bounty is a way of encouraging help. I wonder why this isn't allowed, hopefully someone can answer. $\endgroup$ – Patty Jul 15 '17 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ @patty meta.stackexchange.com/questions/245871/… $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Jul 16 '17 at 0:29
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a question you were considering a bounty for? If the question doesn't need work, I'll happily run a one-trial experiment on the value of placing a bounty. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Jul 16 '17 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Patty That was directed at mrb; sorry to be unclear. I wondered if mrb had a question we should try a bounty on. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Jul 18 '17 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Glen_b thanks for answering. I wanted to use a bounty in the recent past but then, while pondering the option, I got the answer so not needed anymore. However, I find the tool very intriguing. It's the first kind of "reputational currency" that I've ever seen online. $\endgroup$ – mrb Jul 18 '17 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ Once you get over 20K reputation it's about the only thing worth doing with reputation so it becomes much more attractive -- if it doesn't always work that's not such a big deal. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Jul 18 '17 at 12:26
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Well, I'm certainly using it—I've offered a bit over 150 bounties (>90% of them on other people's questions). Other users have offered a substantial number of bounties as well. I'd say it's somewhat effective, but better questions are more effective.

However, most of my bounties have been to reward good answers rather than to draw attention. A number of users have offered many bounties on their own questions (in several cases, almost all of their earned reputation has plowed back into bounties) -- those users clearly seem to see some value in doing so, whether it's to gain more / better answers or simply to reward the people who spend time on their questions.

(I haven't examined the figures in any detail so these are just seat-of-the-pants impressions.)

Of the draw-attention kind, my rough guess would be that I had something under a 50% hit rate (drawing at least a somewhat helpful answer), and I'd say that if the question was a bit unclear before a bounty, it will remain so after a bounty is placed; the rate could be much lower on the questions that weren't really clear.

There also seems to be a good deal of variation in hit rate by topic.

Overall, the best thing you can do to get attention for a post is make it as clear and engaging as you can. Only after that would I suggest you consider a bounty, but with a really good question you should still be prepared for the substantial possibility of getting no response.

On the other hand, offering bounties does seem to increase the upvotes a question gets, sometimes to the extent that it's worth a substantial fraction of the bounty, so if the question is a good one and you bounty it yourself, sometimes a good fraction of the bounty cost is made up for. If you bounty good questions it's not necessarily very expensive.

You can get statistics from the Stack Exchange data explorer for our site (this one will let you choose a site)—if there's no existing query that suits your needs, you may be able to write one; there's a tutorial on writing queries for it here.

Here are a few existing queries that may help you some:

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    $\begingroup$ "Overall, the best thing you can do to get attention for a post is make it as clear and engaging as you can. Only after that would I suggest you consider a bounty, but with a really good question you should still be prepared for the substantial possibility of getting no response." 100% agree from my personal experience as well. $\endgroup$ – Chill2Macht Jul 19 '17 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ +1 I agree wholeheartedly. What I find somewhat disheartening however, is that this strategy of trying to improve the question has not worked for me. I have not uploaded that many questions (2 to be honest), but none of them have been truly answered, so recently I've bountied both of them. No luck though. Moreover, I find it hard to (further) improve the questions based on my own comprehension of the problem. I'd really like a way where a user can specifically ask others help to improve the question. Maybe this comment/'rant' here does the trick, but a 'please improve flag' might be useful. $\endgroup$ – IWS Jul 21 '17 at 8:27
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I am new here, but a long-time user of stack overflow and other exchange sites.

I have used a bounty once, to see how it worked. I have wanted to use a bounty many, many times.

Here's a problem I see with bounties (that is, a problem that makes them not useful for the only purpose I want to use them):

  • I only ever want to put a bounty on something because it's urgent. I want to urge people to work on it by offering an incentive.

  • I cannot put a bounty on something for two days. During that time, I just solve the problem on my own because it's urgent.

Until I read Glen_b's answer, I couldn't think of a use-case for them (because of the time restriction). Also, looking at his 4th link (Who gives bounties to what), it appears that Glen_b does about half the bounties on this site (after a cursory glance... I didn't look closely).

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  • $\begingroup$ It's quite considerably less than half, I think -- the list has a very long tail (there's a lot of people giving only one or two bounties). At my peak it might have been a bit over half of the promotions, but lately I would be doing less than 10% I'd guess. On bounties overall it would be much less than half, even at my peak times. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Jul 18 '17 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Glen_b Fair enough! I just took a quick glance (and I actually don't know the difference between promotions and bounties). Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Sir Robert Jul 19 '17 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ A bounty can be placed on your own question or someone else's question. Placing the second kind of bounty is sometimes called "promotion" - presumably because it makes someone else's questions (and the answers they get) more visible, encouraging additional answers, views and votes on it. Most bounties are not promotions (people want to place bounties on their own questions). I was just worried there would be an impression I was doing the bulk of the bountying on site. It may look like a lot sitting at the top of the list of promotions but it's not a big fraction of all bounties offered. $\endgroup$ – Glen_b Jul 19 '17 at 22:43

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