I've been giving out a few bounties recently on some tough to answer questions, but they've mostly been dismal failures without even generating an answer.

The data on all bounties seems to back this up, with roughly 25%1 of all bounties on questions expiring without even having an answer with 2 upvotes needed for an automatic reward of half the bounty. Some didn't even generate a single answer.

1The Holiday Bounty Giveaway probably skewed the numbers in favor of successful bounties by a bit, so real bounty success is probably worse than the data.

  • 1
    Any idea if this is a problem specific to Gaming.SE, or is it present on all SE sites? Many questions I've seen with posted bounties would require far too much time to determine a detailed answer to be worth the rep gain.
    – Sterno
    Feb 13, 2012 at 17:25
  • interesting point, I ran the same query on other sites and it seems to be fairly consistent with what we see. Hmm...
    – l I
    Feb 13, 2012 at 17:33
  • though on some sites, their expired bounty rate is amazingly low
    – l I
    Feb 13, 2012 at 17:37

2 Answers 2


For some questions, especially, the ability to answer the question falls on the OP being able to provide the AH-HA moment.

ITG questions about Flash/Online games from the late 90's are going to prove pretty difficult to answer too, since they were likely very very localized ... not generally available for download and the website may have gone into the ether many years ago.

It'd go so far as to suggest that ITGs about browser games should be automatically closed as too localized unless they are available as downloads or open source or similar.

Some of the questions I looked at recently are phrased "Is it possible"/"Can this happen" and seem to have an answer of "No." and it's likely impossible to prove a negative without a definitive statement from the developers.

For some of these questions, perhaps the answer isn't a bounty, but closing.

  • 3
    +1 for pointing out the large number of useless bounties on questions that fundamentally boil down to attempting to prove a negative. A lot of these bounties are fundamentally the product of wishful thinking on the part of the asker, and serve to keep some fairly bad questions around. Feb 13, 2012 at 20:11
  • Agreed that questions trying to prove a negative should be closed. Bad ITGs too. The OP putting bounties on a detailed/acceptable one is probably silly but there's not much we can do about that. Feb 13, 2012 at 21:00

Other issues I'm seeing on the active bounty list include;

  • Very difficult questions on obscure games or technologies. This means one or two other people may have played that game on the site, but it generally takes a larger community to tackle the tough questions. (example)
  • Unanswerable questions because the ability to measure or determine the answer without being a developer on the game is exceedingly challenging.
  • Stephen's answer to confusing (example)
  • Bad questions: Too localized, not enough information, not reproducible. For bug-related questions, these would be closed in bug-tracking software. (example)
  • The not-enough-award-for-a-very-challenging-question dilemma. Without precise character modelling for example, this (example) becomes a nightmare to figure out.

So what is the solution? Well this site has a very good answer to question ratio, people aren't incited by bounties so easily in my opinion as other sites simply because if they can't answer it without a bounty, they can't answer it with a bounty either.

Perhaps the bounty system doesn't work very well on this site for "questions that didn't receive enough attention". I find bounties more interesting for questions that are already answered but could;

  • Use a more well thought out answer, with images, almost like a mini strategy guide or
  • Questions with answers that are no longer correct because of game patches. A bountry draws attention to a question that is significantly different because of a patch in order to prevent a duplicate question from being asked.
  • I take offense to your description of my question as unanswerable without being a dev - I've outlined the exact methodology required to test it in the comments, and would have self answered by now if I were just less busy. It's eminently answerable with a bit of Science! Which, incidentally, is exactly the sort of problem for which a bounty is appropriate - though personally, I'd've offered a larger one. Yx. Just beat me to it. Feb 13, 2012 at 21:58
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz I actually tried to solve your question myself but the numbers fluctuated too much to make a useful measure. I would need a combat log and, much more helpfully, damage meters. If I still had my WoW account it would be trivial, but I'm pretty sure in WoW damage is calculated when you cast and is locked in until your done.
    – Resorath
    Feb 13, 2012 at 22:00
  • Actually wow is per-tick these days iirc. As I said, the key is using the right spell, an unchanging target (I.E. duel someone with no defensive procs), and a narrow damage range, along with a strong +power CD. Feb 13, 2012 at 22:04
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz Well someone answered your question so I'll take it off the example list, but my point still stands!
    – Resorath
    Feb 13, 2012 at 22:04
  • If they were such bad questions in the first place, why are they highly voted then? I basically just pick 3 random highly voted unanswered questions and slap a bounty on each.
    – l I
    Feb 13, 2012 at 22:16
  • My comments/answer on the example are certainly not quality, but after an hour of intense googling I wanted to give the OP something to look at to maybe jog out a few more details. :) Unfortunately that's exactly the type of ITG question I think should get the close hammer.
    – Tharius
    Feb 13, 2012 at 22:17
  • 1
    @yx. # of votes on the question does not necessarily correspond to the quality of the question.
    – Sterno
    Feb 14, 2012 at 18:03

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