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    Hi all,

    I think the idea of featured questions is great. Providing incentives to answer harder questions certainly improves
    the quality of the contributions, and may even lead to collaborations between users.

    But, I see that this opportunity is not very used, and featured questions are very few (2-3 per week) compared
    to the much larger number of questions per week (200-300 per week). In terms of bounty, it's 300-400 points
    per week, a very exiguous portion of the total amount of rep points created in the same period.
    As a matter of fact, MO users do not invest in research. A bit embarrassing, isn't it?

    It seems to me that at the moment, the main objection to put a bounty on one's question is that the bounty on
    a question only lasts 7 days, then expires. But a week is too a short period to think to a hard problem --especially
    because here most of us dedicate to MO spare-time, mainly in the week-ends. As a result, sometimes the invested
    points will be lost, with no or unsatisfactory answer.

    So, I would suggest to adjust this rule, considering a longer expiration period, or even no expiration period at all
    (ideally, a long-standing question should even increase its value in time).

    Pietro Majer

    Unfortunately, the length of bounties is fixed in the software and we don't have the ability to change it.


    Actually, most of the bounty questions that have appeared on MO are not great questions, but instead questions of such low interest that they had to have a bounty added to attract any attention at all. Thus, in my opinion, it is not something to be encouraged.

    • CommentAuthorgilkalai
    • CommentTimeNov 22nd 2011
    Well, I offered bounties to most of my questions

    Yeah, but you did it because the questions are HARD, Gil.

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeNov 22nd 2011 edited

    @Bill Johnson: This does not appear to be Gil Kalai's only motivation, see


    I agree 7 days is too short. I had a question which took a month to get an answer, and then got a very useful answer. Since then I haven't really had the time to follow up on the answer; it wouldn't surprise me if the paper that the answer will eventually help me in writing doesn't show up until sometime in 2013.

    • CommentAuthorfedja
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2011
    The bounties seem like flickering lights to me. They are on and then, before I have time to look at the corresponding problem in honest, they are off. Not that I miss them much, but the whole idea of a short-term bounty seems to be self-defeating, indeed. I would gladly assign a fat bounty to some of my questions but, since the most likely outcome is that it'll go to some minimally useful comment with a couple of upvotes and, on top of that, will prevent me from accepting a really good answer if it appears after the bounty expiration day (I still wonder what genius invented this particular rule), I abstain from it.
    • CommentAuthortheojf
    • CommentTimeNov 23rd 2011

    I strongly agree with other commenters that we should add "longer bounties" to the official feature request list (if such a list exists). It's certainly on my request list.


    I agree. There should be no time limits for bounties.

    • CommentAuthorquid
    • CommentTimeNov 24th 2011

    IMO more or less however one changes this bounty system it will never be a good fit for MO.

    On the one hand due to the relative small size of the site; it is perfectly feasible to roughly keep track of all questions that get asked so increasing visibility seems not that important; or if this is needed the current system works well enough and an expiry date is desirable.

    On the other hand due to the nature of the subject. IMO the only type of question where a bounty is really useful is 'boring but somewhat tedious.' If I find something interesting and can answer it I will do so. If I can answer something easily I will do so. The question is what do I do if I could answer but find it tedious (where tedious is everything above several minutes); then those points might or might not be a motivation (actually that I'd gain the points would not be that much of a motvation but that somebody is willing to spend them might convince me of the relative relevance of the question and motivate me; yet then it is also sufficient I once saw them and then anything I can do but do not find the time to do within seven days is mostlikely so tedious I would not do it anyway).

    • CommentAuthorgeraldedgar
    • CommentTimeNov 25th 2011 edited

    @Quid: So we need a name other than "featured" for these, if indeed they will usually be "boring but somewhat tedious". Perhaps the honest name "bounty".