I'd like to propose a modification to the rules for awarding a bounty on Cross Validated. A couple of times, including this recent one, I have provided a legitimate answer to a question, been the only poster to try, did not receive the required 2 up-votes for automatic award, and was not awarded the bounty. My guess is that the original poster did not return to cross validated during the period after the bounty closed due to the lack of a comment from them, but I have no other direct evidence to support that.

Here is the relevant section of the current rule:

If you do not award your bounty within 7 days (plus the grace period), the highest voted answer created after the bounty started with a minimum score of 2 will be awarded half the bounty amount (or the full amount, if the answer is also accepted). If two or more eligible answers have the same score (their scores are tied), the oldest answer is chosen. If there's no answer meeting those criteria, no bounty is awarded to anyone.

If the bounty was started by the question owner, and the question owner accepts an answer posted during the bounty period, and the bounty expires without an explicit award then we assume the bounty owner liked the answer they accepted and award it the full bounty amount at the time of bounty expiration.

I think there is good reason for the two vote rule because we generally don't want lower quality answers getting the bounty. However, if only one person decides to take their time to answer the question, and the original poster does not take any action, then I would award the bounty down to zero votes. Sometimes people ask very specific questions where most viewers don't feel like they have the knowledge to upvote an answer (although I'm not sure that was the case in this example, in others, it might have been). The person who provided the answer should not be penalized because of the poster's inattentiveness.

Here is my proposed amendment which I feel encourages people to attempt an answer at sometimes difficult questions:

If there is only one post to the question during the bounty period and the bounty is not manually award, then the bounty will be awarded to the only post.


  1. Are there any other disadvantages to this rule?
  2. Are there any other proposals to address this problem?
  3. Does someone have data on how many bounties are not awarded each year?

Related posts on meta.stackexchange

ref1, ref2, ref3, ref4, ref5

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ I suspect any change might need to be system-wide in which case you need to ask on Meta Stack Exchange. You might want to do a search there first. $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Sep 5, 2022 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ There are some disadvantages. One is that a post with no upvotes and no acceptance is a suspect post. Possibly it's even accompanied by comments pointing out its errors. The system has no way to read, understand, and react to such comments. Awarding a bounty would send a misleading signal to future readers. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Sep 5, 2022 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the suggestion @mdewey , I did a search and will add related questions to the post. There are no similar proposals I could find. It would be good to hear from the moderators if this rule is set at the top level, or if the various communities have the ability to set community specific rules. $\endgroup$
    – R Carnell
    Sep 5, 2022 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber I agree with that disadvantage. That might call for a different proposal which would be to start a new review queue for "Unawarded bounties where a post was correctly submitted during the bounty period". We could have users decide if a bounty should have reasonably been awarded. $\endgroup$
    – R Carnell
    Sep 5, 2022 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ That's an interesting idea. This unfortunately is one of the system-wide settings that we have no control over, so you have to bring it up on Meta SE as mdewey suggests. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Sep 5, 2022 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ I’m voting to close this question because I would like to re-post it on the top level stack exchange meta where the proposal could be acted upon. $\endgroup$
    – R Carnell
    Sep 5, 2022 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Side note: apparently the 3-vote closure threshold does not apply to Meta. Interesting! $\endgroup$
    – mkt
    Sep 6, 2022 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ "Sometimes people ask very specific questions where most viewers don't feel like they have the knowledge to upvote an answer" - important then to make sure the question's appropriately tagged, to increase the odds that the right people see it, & any answers. (Your example doesn't seem to have much to do with reinforcement learning or Bayesian optimization, for instance.) $\endgroup$ Sep 12, 2022 at 8:02
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    $\begingroup$ The particular example that you are referring to is interesting. I do not understand the question very well and also another person has been asking for more explanation and detail in the comments. It is actually a question that should be closed because it is unclear. Or at least to some people it is unclear. When someone attempts to answer such a problematic unclear question, then it is also important to be be very clear in the answer. Otherwise you get a low number of up-votes... $\endgroup$ Sep 14, 2022 at 10:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ...You state that "Sometimes people ask very specific questions where most viewers don't feel like they have the knowledge to upvote an answer". These cases might occur, but in the given example I believe that it is not the case. Or at least, it is not so much a lack of 'knowledge' and more a lack of 'clarity'. This is a problem throughout the entire technical/scientific community and spreading your 'ideas' is difficult when they are not presented clearly. Possibly the answer might have some good content, but it is difficult to see it. $\endgroup$ Sep 14, 2022 at 10:46

1 Answer 1


3 Does someone have data on how many bounties are not awarded each year?

Data on bounties is available in the votes table of the database.

The easiest way would be to count the number of bounties that awarded zero answers.

But to figure out the bounties that are half points, I believe this is not easy to see. Possibly you could work it out by doing some bookkeeping and for each user that has awarded bounties you compute how much their reputation score should be and how much the score actually is.

Alternatively you could create a web crawler that searches the bounties granted by each person.

For instance, the bounty on the specific case of this question is still visible. https://stats.stackexchange.com/users/285740/noone?tab=bounties&sort=offered

(I wonder whether this is also available in the database, it seems to be not the case. One thing that I am sure about is that the information of the user profiles shows the correct value of bounties granted and awarded, with that I mean that you can see values of 25 being awarded I the profile of the receiver while the granter has awarded 50 for the same question)

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your thoughts on this. How can I access the Database? I thought maybe you were suggesting that I do a filtered search, but the search capabilities do not include finding questions that have ever had a bounty: stats.stackexchange.com/help/searching $\endgroup$
    – R Carnell
    Sep 9, 2022 at 16:48
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    $\begingroup$ @RCarnell data.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2022 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. This data will really improve my overall point. In 2021, there were 570 bountied questions. 287 of them closed with no points awarded. 155 of those had answers. 27% of bountied questions are not awarding bounties, even when there are answers. The only thing left to do is to make sure the answers weren't posted after the bounty closed. $\endgroup$
    – R Carnell
    Sep 11, 2022 at 17:27

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