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In recent times, I bountied a question when it was reopened prior to a previous closing. Unfortunately, the bounty started on a time with four close votes. The bounty was apparently manually removed by a mod and given back to me. I believe today, the question was again reopened, and now has close open votes. It was clear to me that, this'd be the case, because, this question was immensely popular on this site (over 35 upvote), so I couldn't see it being closed.

Due to my actions, I also received a warning mail from the moderators, telling me that I should not bounty questions to prevent closure, and another moderator had mentioned my action was anti ethical. Hence, my question, what state should a question be in, for it to be bountied?

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    $\begingroup$ Bounty a question because you have a reason to give the bounty, not to play with site politics or to circumvent site quality maintenance. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 8:44
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    $\begingroup$ Now how would one distinguish if a bounty plays with site politics or not? I would've awarded to the top answer weren't it for the removal @Nij $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ A custom comment that it's the exact reason for the bounty is one way, the rest is not something that a mod would expose. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ Well, the comment was around the lines of wanting to reward the users who I deem worthy. Tell me, isn't that essentially what you do when you vote on posts? I earned the reputation, so it should be my right what I do with it. @Nij $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ No, it is not. Voting is on the merit of the post, not because you like the user who posted it. Rights comes with responsibilities and reasonable restrictions, and "don't abuse privileges to play politics" is one of them. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ And, wouldn't it be upto the individual to be the judge of what is meritorious or not? If we had an objective definition then voting would not be required. Also its not as clear cut as you think it is. Five users who closed the post and the additional mod thought it was not meritorious in the context of this site, yet, the other ten who reopened thought it. @Nij $\endgroup$
    – Babu
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ For the record, I believe this is the question to which OP is referring. $\endgroup$
    – CPlus
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ I would suggest that posting a bounty on a post which has generated controversy, while that controversy is still being resolved, is a Bad Idea™. Don't post bounties on posts with 4 close votes. Don't post bounties on questions which are the topic of active meta discussion. Don't post bounties on questions which have recently been the subject of close/reopen or delete/undelete cycles. Violating these suggestions give the impression of trying to abuse the bounty system to circumvent normal moderation. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ If you really think that some answer deserves a bounty, wait a month or two for the dust to settle, and assign a bounty then. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Jun 11, 2023 at 20:43
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    $\begingroup$ "If you really think that some answer deserves a bounty, wait a month or two for the dust to settle, and assign a bounty then." @Xander, it's not possible, is it, to assign a bounty on a question that has been deleted? Is it possible to assign a bounty on a question that has been closed? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 0:10
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson If the question was closed or deleted, then the take-home message should be that the question was not appropriate for the site, and one should not be awarding bounties for things which are off-topic. I am surprised that this should be a controversial point. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Xander, as you know, closed questions sometimes get reopened, and deleted questions sometimes get undeleted, even if they haven't been improved. From time to time, the community is divided on whether some question is appropriate for the site. Also, occasionally some user takes the time to write a thoughtful and educational answer to a patently poor question, and someone might want to reward that answer with a bounty. But anyway, my question wasn't whether one should bounty a closed question, but whether it's even possible to do so. Is it? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ It is not a good idea to bounty controversial questions while the controversy is still being resolved. This gives the impression of trying to circumvent moderation through the use of a bounty. If the question is still open a month or two later, I think that it is safe to assume that the controversy has been resolved, and that the question can be bountied (assuming that it is still open). $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ In any event, no. You cannot bounty a closed question. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2023 at 18:43

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If I think it's a terrible question that should be closed and deleted as fast as possible, then I'm very annoyed if someone tries to delay the inevitable by setting a bounty.

If I think it's a fine question that should not on any account be closed, then I support setting a bounty to buy time to make the case for keeping the question on the site and open.

The above may not help you to decide whether to bounty a contested question, but it works for me!

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