I've personally been involved in one, two, three questions with bounties which were effectively awarded plus two that were placed and not answered. Twice answering and thrice asking. And each time critical information only became available when the bounty was expired or about to expire:

  • In the first I was awarded the bounty and the period for doing so ended before I had actually managed to finish the answer. This delay was due to having to communicate with a co-author and also having to wait for computation to complete.

  • In the second the answer was only edited to completion in the grace period of the bounty after the bounty period of one week.

  • In the third I had seen the question before and pondered it. Then someone else posted an answer only 10 hours before the expiry of the bounty. Then I realized I could finish from that and I did, again during the grace period.

Every time the bounty period was uncomfortably short. I think this is due to differences the between the programming site and the math site, and the period of one week having been chosen with the programming site in mind. As of writing, the programming site has 18 times as many users, and 400 questions with active bounties for the math site's 90. So users of the math site are 4 times as likely to place a bounty. Furthermore, in the programming site of the 15 bounties that are nearest to expiry 4 (26%) questions don't have any answers and in the math site 10 (66%) don't. I take this as evidence that bounties in the math site are not effective. I think part of this is because in math it's common for questions to be both intractable and compelling, whereas in programming that's rare. Of course there's nothing that can be done about that, but I think that a part of it is that math questions simply take longer to answer in average.

For my personal use case, I like to browse the bountied tab so suppose I come across bountied questions randomly regardless of how much time they have left in them. That means I'm going to have a mean of 3 and a half days to come up with an answer should I want to receive the bounty. I think that's often not sufficient. If we think of another common scenario where one answer gives a partial result and another finishes, if the second person wants to receive the bounty they have a mean time to come up with the answer of only $\frac 74$ days.

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    $\begingroup$ I only read your complaint. I don't see any argument you offer that suggests a longer bounty period, and why, and takes into consideration that many users offering a bounty don't want to wait two, or three weeks in hopes of an answer. Your argument only includes the frustration you felt as a potential answerer. I'd suggest your check the bountied questions more than one or twice a week, and you want run into the problems you've encountered. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ I do see potential in requesting a feature in which someone wanting to place a bounty on a question can choose not only how much rep the bounty will award, but an option for them to select "one week" or "two weeks". That would address the concern I listed in my previous comment. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ Also, the only examples of the five experiences you've had with bounties, you list three answers you provided, when in your first paragraph, you claim you answered two bounty questions, and asked three questions offered a bounty. This is rather confusing. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy I proved that there exists a problem. That's an ineffective result since I didn't provide a full solution, a type of thing which people do complain about a lot but they're still considered significant en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effective_results_in_number_theory. Also in the second link and the second bullet point I'm asking not answering. Furthermore the alternative to waiting for an answer is simply to not have an answer at all which seems hardly preferable. The other two questions I placed a bounty on and did not receive any answers so they weren't interesting to link to. $\endgroup$
    – Sophie
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ You did not prove anything. You merely offered testimonials about your perception of a problem, if one exists. I believe I offered a possible compromise, in my previous second to last comment. I'd even allow users to select one week, two, or four weeks. But you alone can not speak to those seeking an answer within a week. And, even if a bounty expires, if you want to answer the question, you are free to do so (same for a question whose bounty has expired: any user can choose t answer anyway, and you have the option to offer another bounty). Not all help requires a bounty. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 21:59
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    $\begingroup$ Here is a related older post: Is 7 days too short for bounty question? (Although it was posted as discussion rather than feature request.) Perhaps also these posts are a bit related: Can I extend deadline time for bounty? and Bounty grace time insufficient to study the solutions. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 6:25

1 Answer 1


At present, I earned 371 bounties. My experience suggests the following. Although I agree with you that (bountied) questions can be hard. In extreme cases we wrote (partially) answering papers, for instance, here, here or here and some of them are unfinished for years, see, for instance, here or here. Nevertheless, I think that an option allowing to a benefactor to provide a bounty period would not help much, because in almost all cases a 7+1 days bounty period looks perfect. On one hand, in almost all cases it is sufficiently long to all involved answerers to test their ideas. On the other hand, it is sufficiently short for a benefactor to wait and a bounty deadline disciplines answerers. I guess this is why some answers are posted at the last day of a bounty period.


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