Probably a few of us have been in a situation like this.

I have placed a bounty on some question in hope to get an answer (or a better answer or a specific type of answer, for example, combinatorial proof instead of inductive argument). I did not get an answer I wanted. If there was some answer at all, maybe I awarded the bounty to the closest match, but I still would like to see an answer fulfilling my original requirements. What can I do next?

  • One possibility is adding new bounties on the same question repeatedly. This is probably not very efficient and I could exhaust non-negligible part of my reputation after a few iterations. (This would be difficult especially for low rep users.)
  • I could mention (in a comment or - if it is my question - directly in a question), that if somebody posts an answer fulfilling some criteria, I will award such answer with a bounty. A clear disadvantage of this is that this will not be very prominently visible.

Would creating a list of such bounties be potentially useful. I would imagine each entry to contain description of the question and what the user offering the potential bounty looks for. And the entry would be considered as a commitment to award a bounty if the answer they are satisfied with is posted.

And if something like that could be useful, what would be the best way to implement it? Would it be a dedicated meta post? (I am afraid it might get too long.) Would perhaps a dedicated chat room be more suitable?

To prevent misuse of the list, maybe some rules would be needed? Probably only person who already gave at least one bounty on that question should post there? And maybe there could be some age limit - say questions as least one or two months old?


I should mention that it is possible to see the list of all past bounties. In theory, all of them should be on this site's twitter account. (Although it probably does not work perfectly.) But probably better and much more customizable way is to use data explorer.

One example of SEDE query listing all past bounties is given in this answer. Here is direct link to the query. Another similar query is Unanswered questions on which a bounty was once set. And here is the same query with possibility to limit the date range where the bounty has been offered. Probably there exist some other similar queries and surely these query can be modified in various ways - for example, to show only questions where bounty was not awarded to any answer. (But this is only a very rough approximation of the list suggested above. The advantage I see in collecting list of bounties manually as opposed to a data explorer query is the fact that by posting link to the question somebody declares that they are still interested in the question. It is very likely that many past featured questions have been "abandoned" and neither the OP nor the user who offered the bounty are interested in them any longer.)


I should mention that this questions is to some extent inspired by Is bounties period sufficient? on MathOverflow. There was also an older discussion on this meta which is somewhat related: Could it be a good idea to create a Room in the Chat dedicated to Call of Proposals for Bounties? (now deleted). But it is not exactly the same suggestion.

  • 6
    +1. My experience with bounties has been particularly poor. Two or three out of three or four times I've tried it, I have had few additional views or any attempts at an answer. – 6005 Jul 20 '16 at 17:05
  • 1
    Perhaps a chat room would be less intrusive? I am afraid that such thread would be full too quickly. (If I had to decide between the two solutions, I would choose chat.) – Martin Sleziak Jul 24 '16 at 18:04
  • Yes, I agree. I think the meta thread would just get really cluttered. I removed my previous comment. – 6005 Jul 24 '16 at 18:07

Since the post received some positive feedback I have started chatroom for this purpose. (I guess it is at least worth trying how the things will go. And it seems that chatroom is less intrusive than creating a thread on meta for this purpose.)


If you post in this room, please, follow these rules:

  • Only post questions on which you already offered a bounty at least once and the bounty period has already ended.
  • Links to the questions should be oneboxed. This helps to separate different questions visually. And it also provides preview of beginning of the question. (So that other users know at least roughly what the question is about without having to click on your link.)
  • Add an explanation what is it you are looking for and why previous answers did not satisfy you.
  • Although it is not enforceable in any way, if you post a question here, it is considered as a commitment to add a new bounty - to reward the answerer - if an answer satisfying your criteria is posted. (Of course, judging whether the answer is sufficient is entirely up to you. You should also keep in mind that your next bounty will have to be twice the preceding amount, unless you go over 500.)
  • The room was created mainly for bounties. Of course, it is ok to ask about a minor clarification now and then. But if it evolves into a long discussion, it is better to continue elsewhere.

If you want to answer a post from this room:

  • Keep in mind that since the question had been posted in chat, an answer which received the bounty might have already been posted. (However, bounties and reputation are not the main motivation why we post answers on this site. If you have something useful to add, certainly go ahead.) So you might check the question timeline to see whether a bounty has been awarded after the message in chat. And you can also try to search the chat room for the number (id) of the question, to see whether there have been some additional discussion about that particular question.
  • If you want to notify somebody that you answered a post they mentioned in this chat room, you can do so using reply to the message where they announced the bounty. (This is definitely not needed if this is OPs own questions, since they will be notified there.)

Although it should be clear from the context of this question, I will reiterate what is the purpose of this new chat room.

Bounties are offered for various reasons. Many of them also indicate interesting questions, where somebody volunteered to spend some reputation points in order to reward a very nice answer or give more exposure to a very interesting question. So by browsing list of all bounties you can get to see lost of interesting question. This can be done using SEDE or by checking the twitter account.

Many of them were offered simply for the reason that somebody (OP or other user) wants to get an answer to some question, or they want an answer of a specific type. If you have some list of bounties, it is not clear which of them are still not satisfactorily answered, unless you check them one by one. The purpose of this room is precisely to collect such posts.


EDIT (May 2017): So far the chat room did not receive too much attention, it existed for 9 months and during that time, 13 questions were posted in the room.

  • If you think that there are some additional rules which could make the room more useful (or more organized), let me know. – Martin Sleziak Jul 26 '16 at 13:10
  • I think we can always delete our chat message once we've received a satisfactory answer. – user21820 Jul 30 '16 at 3:26
  • @user21820 IIRC only moderators can delete messages. Room owners can move messages to another room (for example into trash). But I do not think there is much harm in having some list of older interesting question. (If the room starts to be used, we will see what the volume is. Then it will be easier to decide on this.) – Martin Sleziak Jul 30 '16 at 4:56
  • Oh you're right; I must have remembered wrongly. Yeap I think it's a good idea so we'll see how it pans out. =) – user21820 Jul 30 '16 at 5:00
  • So it seems that the experiment with the chat room did not work out. See also the summary here. – Martin Sleziak Aug 10 '17 at 5:31
  • Oh that's a pity. And wow that's a long time you've tried to keep it up! I suspect a more efficient (even if more haphazard) method would be to simply post the bounty-expired question in a dedicated chat-room for serious mathematical discussion or some specific topic. The problem with that is that there aren't that many such chat-rooms and most of them are empty. It seems chat is where users go to just have fun and usually they would rather get internet points for their mathematical contributions than engage in back-and-forth discussions. – user21820 Aug 10 '17 at 5:52
  • @user21820 Well, it is possible that a user who offered bounty is no longer interested in the question. See also Peter Franek's comment on this. – Martin Sleziak Aug 10 '17 at 5:55
  • Oh I was referring to the level of activity in that room, not whether it is useful. Even if there are many people who are interested in answers to questions with expired bounties, there simply aren't people who are interested in looking at those questions, not to say interested enough to seek out such a chat-room. – user21820 Aug 10 '17 at 6:00

As one of the possible implementations of the list of unresolved bounties I have mentioned creating a post on meta where links to the questions (probably with some commentary) would be posted as answers.

This would be certainly more organized than a chat room and probably more visible. On the other hand, we already have already several "mega threads" so I am not sure adding new one is a good idea.

You can have a look at the questions advertised in the chat room to get an idea what might be posted in such thread.


Please upvote this poll answer if you think creating a thread for this purpose could be useful. And downvote if you are against such a thread. (Any constructive suggestions in comments are welcome.)

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