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Recently I've noticed an increase of bounty questions towards 70 or 80 in the past few days, which got me wondering whether there should be a limit on the number of bounty questions active at any time. After all, the whole point of giving bounties is to get extra attention to your question in hopes of getting an answer, or occasionally to reward an excellent answer. In the help center it is written,

Part of what you’re “paying for” with the bounty is to get additional attention for your question, over and beyond what a normal question gets.

If everyone is trying to attract attention to their questions, then we end up with no one getting it, since it is drowned out by all the other questions with a bounty. Sure, you can always reward more reputation, but that wouldn't really be ideal, especially for users with lower reputation.

Should we do anything about this? Perhaps putting a 'cap' at 50 or 75 questions would help at giving each question more attention?

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  • $\begingroup$ Older post (now deleted, so visible for mods and 10k+ users): What about restricting the number of featured questions?. This is also related. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Oct 19 '14 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ It is probably worth noting that there are currently close to 400 active bounties on Stack Overflow. (If users are interesting in collecting bounties it is probably better to look at the featured tab of their tags of interest; e.g., like this.) $\endgroup$ – user642796 Oct 19 '14 at 11:51
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    $\begingroup$ A cap seems unreasonable. If anything one might increase the minimum cost or shorten the duration. Personally I do not see a problem with the current situation though. $\endgroup$ – quid Oct 19 '14 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ When the user base getting bigger, the number of bounties should increase simply because there are more people to answer the question. As long as the ratio of bounties and active users remain reasonable, there is no reason to impose a cap at all. $\endgroup$ – achille hui Oct 19 '14 at 16:07
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It's more scalable than you think. For instance, ideally the prospective answerers are following their own tags. Secondly, 80 is nowhere near a lot to browse through if you're looking for a more interesting question. Thirdly, you can add different amounts of reputation. Yes there is a small auction effect, but if someone puts a +500 bounty on a question, they do this very sparingly (and avidly participate here so know the standards) and the system works.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good points; I guess the bounty system's fine staying as is. $\endgroup$ – Daccache Oct 20 '14 at 3:35

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