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Suppose I am reading math.SE and I see that someone has written a truly amazing answer. I feel generous and decide that I should give them some reputation. The bounty system allows and encourages me to do this.

Why do I need to wait 24 hours in order to award the bounty, when the answer already exists?

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe it's so the answer gets a little time in the spotlight, increasing the reward by exposing it to potential upvoters. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Gruber Jun 27 '13 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ There's a question on MSO with basically the exact same title... meta.stackexchange.com/questions/107282/… $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jun 27 '13 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ Extra info to @Willie's link: The duplicate of that question (this one) is status-declined. $\endgroup$ – Lord_Farin Jun 27 '13 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ So you could get drunk later that night, tossed into jail for a week for harassing the cops, and then the bounty will be gone and you'll have to post a new one! Or something like that. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 27 '13 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ Following links from Willie's link, I see that this has been asked and declined several times: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/116072 meta.stackexchange.com/questions/107282 meta.stackexchange.com/questions/99457 . The answers there do not change my view that the waiting period is silly and confusing, but it looks like something the admins have a fixed view about. $\endgroup$ – David E Speyer Jun 27 '13 at 15:16
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Because SE wants to limit the liquidity of reputation. Instantaneous awards would make it possible to transfer an arbitrary amount of reputation to multiple users in a short period of time. This has some potential to be useful, and also the potential to be disruptive. For example, consider the bounty spree of Frictionless Jellyfish (discussed on meta.MO and tea.MO) -- it is at present limited by the inability to give more bounties before awarding the current ones, which cannot be done before 24 hours elapse.

It is not very hard* to imagine a high rep user getting offended or otherwise disenchanted with the site, and making odd decisions, such as giving 3000 points to a dozen of the worst-behaved users on the site. So, I think that the potential disruptions of instant bounties outweigh the potential usefulness.

(*) Especially for me.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the software has a limitation on three new bounties a day, but still transferring 1500 reputation a day for four days amounts to 6000 reputations which gives you a lot of power. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jun 28 '13 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Sure, but at least it will be noticed by many, and the community will be prepared to react. $\endgroup$ – ˈjuː.zɚ79365 Jun 28 '13 at 15:53
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I'm sorry, but I don't get it. I have lots of rep, but even if I gave it all away I couldn't empower very many users to do very damaging things. We trust users with lots of rep to be responsible and have moderators (I am not one) to police what goes on. My poster child is panoramix who showed an approach to math.stackexchange.com/questions/614209/… that was terrific. Everybody else had answers involving upper division college things (usually Dirichlet's theorem) and his was high school level. I wanted to award a bounty, but it was only posted a few hours ago.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't see the problem — just wait a little $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Dec 21 '13 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ Some other, earlier, answers also were elementary (one of $x,x+2,x+4$ is divisible by $3$). I think the bounty restriction makes sense here: if bookmarking the answer and returning to it later feels like too much trouble, then it is not really a bounty material. The system prevents impulsive gifting. $\endgroup$ – Post No Bulls Dec 21 '13 at 9:39

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