I'm sure this may have been discussed over at the meta site for Stack Exchange in general (though I couldn't find it in a quick search), but I find the standard bounty info page to be a bit misleading in the justifications for bounties.
Once I got enough reputation a couple years ago, I started considering whether I wanted to offer bounties. I read the info page, which gives the impression that bounties are ONLY for two main reasons: (1) "to draw attention to your question," and (2) if your question has not "gotten a satisfactory answer."
I had thought about other possible reasons for bounties, but since those weren't addressed on the main bounty info page, I just assumed they would not be appropriate.
I now know, after having posed another question here, that there is a list of common bounty reasons, which one could only discover by going down to the seventh link on the bounty info page, buried in the middle of an answer to a question that isn't really related to reasons why one might start a bounty.
Reading the info page now, I'd assume that link would just contain justifications related to what is listed on the main info page. However, it does NOT.
The reasons include:
- drawing attention to the question
- looking for more (reliable) references
- insufficient detail
- requesting a canonical answer because the question is widely applicable
- current answers are now outdated
- reward existing answers
Only the first rationale is directly addressed on the bounty info page. The next couple might be implied in the idea that no answers are yet "satisfactory," though they are not discussed directly. But the last three canonical rationales for bounties are not really addressed or implied on the main bounty info page AT ALL. (And these latter rationales are the more "selfless" bounty justifications that would most improve the community and quality of the site overall, rather than simply answering one user's question.)
It's only because I started noticing repeated bounty reasons appearing on various questions on other sites (because bounties don't seem to be that common on Seasoned Advice) that I got a little more curious and eventually posted a question about this on meta.
I see a number of possible ways of improving this:
- Add info on common bounty justifications to the main bounty info page (could add too much length, though)
- Add a question on the bounty info page like "What are common reasons for bounties?" and either have a list of bullet points or a clearer link to the list
- At a minimum, put the link higher on the bounty info page and label it clearly, so people don't miss it while skimming through the page and/or assume it's just a summary of reasons already listed on the info page (which it's not)
In general, I'd be willing to share some of my rep to improve the site, but I think more users might be tempted into doing so if we made it slightly easier to find good reasons for bounties.
On a related note -- I realize that I could have seen these reasons if I had actually created a bounty, but the creation of a bounty appears quite risky if you've never done it before. I now see that there is a set of steps and a final confirmation, but the first box that appears says "this reputation is deducted immediately and cannot be refunded," which could lead a new user (like me) to wonder whether the reputation would be gone immediately upon clicking "NEXT" on the first box... before I even saw a list of common reasons for bounties. So I never bothered even clicking "NEXT."
Given this dire warning, it's essential that information about bounties be quickly and easily accessible to new users. Or, at least changing the dire warning on the first bounty box to make clear that you'll still confirm before your rep will be deducted could make the whole thing a little less scary.