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I've read over the general guidelines about bounties, and they mostly seem to be about drawing attention to a question and getting users motivated to write better answers.

But what if a user has already offered a good answer that obviously required a significant amount of research or effort? Can it be appropriate to offer a bounty, knowing that you will likely award it to an existing answer?

Obviously, if the bounty causes someone to offer an even better answer, I'd award it to the new (better) answer. But I've seen occasional situations where users sometimes offer bounties obviously aimed at rewarding existing answers. Is this encouraged/discouraged?

The obvious benefit (from my perspective) is that a bounty rewards better quality answers and encourages users to write them, regardless of whether it is offered before or after the answer is written. However, I just want to know if there are guidelines/constraints on such a practice.

  • Someone actually used bounties to give away most of their reputation when the site was still new ... but that was because it was discovered that they had been plagiarizing questions from other websites. – Joe May 27 '15 at 0:19
  • Less awesome, I've seen someone on another site giving bounties to specific users more as a political statement than anything else (not exactly against any rules, but sure doesn't make people happy), but as long as you're genuinely just rewarding a good answer, that's not something you have to worry about! – Cascabel May 27 '15 at 3:17
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Yes! There's even a bounty reason specifically for outstanding answers:

Reward existing answer

  • One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty.

  • 2
    Thanks - I didn't click through the bounty process to see all the options. I wish this list appeared on the bounty info page. Since the first pop-up box in awarding a bounty asks you to select an amount of reputation and warns you it is non-refundable, I was afraid to click through without knowing the kind of reasons they tend to be awarded. – Athanasius May 22 '15 at 17:12
  • Ah -- nevermind, I just saw the general link to the general Stack Exchange info page on it. – Athanasius May 22 '15 at 17:12
  • @Athanasius The first time I offered a bounty, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was. – Jolenealaska May 28 '15 at 4:56
  • @Jolenealaska - I agree. It's an easy process, but as far as I can tell, there are no "help" pages that actually describe that process in detail. So if you haven't done it before, you're confronted by the first box that pops up saying, "your rep will be gone immediately." I must have clicked on the "offer a bounty" link on a half-dozen questions in the past, but then I gave up and clicked cancel because I didn't know exactly what steps were coming. – Athanasius May 28 '15 at 15:01

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