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I sometime stumble upon relatively new users that post really good answers (and I would like to encourage them) or simply really good answers that truly show effort in research and are in my opinion worthy of a bit more reputation. However I don't know if I should award the bounty as soon as it's possible or if I should wait a few days. My main concerns are :

  • If someone post another (possibly best) answer on this question, will I be able to bounty both ? And is that acceptable ? If I can't what then ?
  • Should I let the time to the author of the answer to edit and finalize his post before awarding the reputation. If I award the bounty to soon, I'm affraid that the author will leave the answer in its current state even though it could still have been improved.

Any thoughts ? Thanks

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You're required to wait 24 hours after posting a bounty to award it to an answer. Beyond that, it's up to you. Personally, I tend to wait the full seven days, even if I've selected the "reward an exceptional answer" bounty reason. The reason I wait is because until I actually award the bounty, the question remains in the Featured questions list, increasing it's views, and, I hope, garnering some more attention and an extra upvote or two for the answer I liked so much.

Regardless of that (minor) reason to wait, there's no etiquette or rule demanding it, and you are free to award the bounty whenever you please. Many prefer to do it ASAP, lest they forget about it.

(As for awarding subsequent bounties, you may post as many bounties on a question as you like, and award them to as many separate answers as you like. However, each subsequent bounty must be larger than the previous bounty on the same question, up to the maximum. I.e. If you post a 50 rep bounty and would like to award another, it must be 100 rep or higher. If you've posted a 500 rep bounty, all future bounties on that question must be 500 rep as well.)

  • I like the ideas of waiting the 7 days to gather more attention, I think I'll do that from now on for answers I think deserve it. Thanks for the insight. – WizLiz Aug 5 '14 at 12:24
  • Does Stack Exchange remind you when a bounty you offered is about to expire? – Batophobia Aug 8 '14 at 14:28
  • 2
    @Batophobia Yes. – LessPop_MoreFizz Aug 8 '14 at 14:29
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You should award the bounty if you are satisfied with the answer. I think the two main reasons for bounties placed on questions are: Giving the question more attention for better or more accurate answers or for rewarding high quality content.

Now one thing to note: Bounties are "paid" from your personal Rep. May it be for helping the community or for personal gain, you "pay" for something and it's your right to reward the bounty on the -20 Answer if you wish to do so ( most people don't just give away rep because they can, so there is usually a reason behind it).

Your only limits to awarding a bounty are:

  • You have to wait 24 hours after placing the bounty (which can be placed 48 hours after a question is asked)
  • You cannot award bounties after 1 week.

Beyond that you can basically reward it on whatever you want and also whenever you want. However I would suggest to reward the bounty to an answer as soon as you can see that it either helps the community or yourself.

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