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In general, this meta post would have an objective answer of "yes" or "no" with simple reasoning; however, I have added "(but what if)" because I am looking for additional answers in case of not-so-simple reasonings.

Can I award a bounty to an answer that I like, which was asked in 2017, has received an answer that says, "You can absolutely do that"--in short, yes.

Following that, I wanted to clarify this matter: What if the answer that I like seems underappreciated, but is not accepted and having mixed votes or zero votes?


Example post: What does it mean to make a bootable LiveUSB?

Recently (see timeline), I have started my first bounty on the example post. The question itself somehow received a mixed response until the post has been revised by OP about four months ago. I consider this question is very relevant to anyone whom just about to try using Ubuntu, then soon discovered that creating Live USB is not the same as Live CD, as in copying (writing) ISO file to the storage media.

In the example post, the most voted answer (also the longest answer) has been accepted as the best answer by OP. Personally, I do not think that is the best answer at all. There are several other answers that use less words but does a better job at answering the question.

So I started a bounty to bring attention to the post and to appreciate the answer that I like. But what if I decided to award bounty to either one of these:

Case A (mixed votes): This answer by sudodus has total votes of +5/-1, but not sure why the -1 vote. Down-vote reason is not known. At least one commentator appreciated this answer.

Case B (zero votes): This answer by Dmitry Grigoryev has total votes of +1/0, but I consider that as having zero votes because +1 was voted by myself. Am I the only one who think this is also a good answer?

Note: If necessary, I will post a meta answer below to explain my reasoning why both answers are good, despite each has a different approach.


My concern is that the non-accepted answers that I like seem to have relatively less votes or zero votes. So far, I do not recall any bounty being awarded to such posts on Ask Ubuntu (and not even other Stack Exchange sites that I had joined so far).

In other words, bounties are usually awarded to either: Accepted answer, or most voted answer, or least voted but the only answer.

Hence my meta question: Say I decided to award a bounty to such answer. As a result, will my decision cause the awarded answer to be targeted by unexpected down-votes or disagreement by the community? What are the recommended steps to appreciate such answer without causing such unintended result?

TL;DR: Started a bounty to appreciate the underappreciated answers, but now I chickened out, thinking of possible disagreement and such unintended result due to awarding bounty to least voted answers.

  • I do not know other example post, but there may be some underappreciated answers out there having mixed votes or zero votes (like +1/-1, or even +5/-5 which has total score 0). If someone know of such example, feel free to post a new meta answer and evaluate whether such answers deserve a bounty or not. – clearkimura Jul 28 at 5:35
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You started the bounty and paid with your own points, so you can decide whichever answer it shall be awarded to.

There is no requirement or recommendation to award it to the accepted or highest voted answer - it just usually happens to be like that because all three are indicators of the most helpful answer.

An answer having few or no votes so far does not necessarily mean it is a bad answer either, it might just not have got much attention yet - maybe because it was posted much later than the question and/or many other answers. A single downvote is also nothing serious. Sometimes they're just from someone who had a bad day or misclicked without noticing - or Tim Post lost his keys again. Don't feel afraid to show appreciation for a post just because there might be some people who don't share it.

About your bounty possibly causing "balance downvotes", I'd not put too many thoughts on that either. While of course somebody might come by and do that, I believe chances of people seeing a bounty as indicator that someone who knows their stuff really liked this one, as intended, are much higher. Otherwise, following your argumentation, you must not upvote any single post because it might provoke downvotes too. Also upvotes and especially bounties are worth much more reputation than a downvote takes away, btw.

So yeah, it's your decision where it should go to, within the boundaries of SE rules. The only criteria I would consider are:

  • It is not possible to award a bounty to your own answer.
  • You should not give the bounty based on who wrote an answer (equivalent to targeted voting, which can lead to moderating actions) but based on the quality of its content.
  • You should not give the bounty to an answer that is not suitable for the site and would otherwise deserve to get removed (i.e. anything that justifies post flags and deletion) - simply because we will still do that if necessary and then your points were in vain.

So much for the official part I can tell you as a moderator.

Now personally, I would not think of Dmitry's answer here as a good bounty candidate, as even though it answers the question in a basic way, it doesn't really give you much to continue with. "Because of that, you need special magic to [...]" is not really helpful IMHO. It is still a valid answer, but I would not consider it outstanding enough to deserve a bounty myself.

  • So basically: Decision is on whom started the bounty; both mixed votes and zero votes do not necessarily mean bad answers; bounties should be awarded to not just good answers, but outstanding answers. +1 – clearkimura Jul 28 at 5:27
  • @clearkimura not really. The main point is that it's your bounty and you can award it to whichever answer you want. Worst case scenario, if you give it to a non-answer which is deleted, you will have wasted your points and your efforts, but it's still your call. Just like accepting an answer, awarding a bounty is a personal choice and nobody gets to tell you which answer to give it to. – terdon Jul 28 at 12:26
  • @terdon I have seen this before: OP had accepted the most voted answer for a question; later, some users disagreed and commented "OP should have accepted this answer" and people would up-vote "this answer" and the accepted ones would be down-voted. That might not be same with bounties: Say if a bounty is given to a good answer with zero votes, people may disagree by casting down-vote that zero votes answer and the result is an answer with some -N votes with the permanent bounty. This is one unintended result that I am trying to avoid. – clearkimura Jul 28 at 14:11
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    @clearkimura well, votes are as personal as bounties. People may vote as they please (as long as they're not abusing the system by serial voting or the like). I would argue none of this is your problem: if you want to award a bounty to an answer, then that's your right. That said, OPs can and do sometimes accept bad or even wrong answers, so downvoting an accepted answer may well be a perfectly reasonable thing to do. – terdon Jul 28 at 14:14
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I will answer my own meta question to explain how I made my decision.

Regarding the bounty, even one would be using own points and the decision is on whom had started that, one should also consider to evaluate if the to-be-awarded answer is actually "valued" by others to some extent.

I use the word "valued" to describe the uncertain hint or some shy acknowledgement by others based on the votes distribution and constructive comments. If the answer has the least votes and no other constructive comments, that will be more difficult to decide.

Looking at the example post (edited Mar 14 at 19:24):

I have to install Ubuntu on a PC and I saw I have to make a bootable LiveUSB from the Ubuntu iso file. However, I can't understand what's the technical difference between making a bootable LiveUSB with a program like Rufus, and copying a .iso file on a USB.
Why is not enough to copy it?

The question asked the difference between a Live USB created by the program and another one created by just copying. That is neither about how does PC turns on and boot the Live USB, nor about how does BIOS/UEFI handle a Live USB--these are indeed related but do not really answer the question.

As for the answers, many of them write like a commentary, a how-to, or a combination of both, which seemingly valid answers but not the real answer to the question.

Personally, I would consider sudodus' and Dmitry's answers are the real answers (to this meta-answered date). Both are good for different reasons that I could tell from my end-user experience, as follows.

  • sudodus' answer is well-explained using less words. That contains conventional information for end-users to understand "there must be a bootloader" and some associated details with BIOS/UEFI systems and 32/64-bit ISO images.

  • Dmitry's answer is short and concise. That contains sufficient information for end-users to understand Live USB has different layout from an ISO image, without complicating the matter with other technical information.

Between the two answers, sudodus' answer would have the upper hand:

  • "There must be a bootloader" is essentially the short answer, and the remaining text are expanded from the first five words;

  • The cloning tools and extracting tools: These are likely known to experienced users including myself, but somehow not well-explained by others (This explains how a Live USB may be created, given that "a program like Rufus" was noted by OP);

  • "If you simply copy [...]" with external links: The reason is summarized in the last paragraph, then some links are provided for further reading (This repeats whatever explained from the beginning in least words possible that affirms the answer itself).

In terms of "valued" indicators:

  • sudodus' answer has changed from +5/-1 (before) to +7/-1 (after). Down-vote reason is not known. At least one commentator appreciated this answer. No new comment.

  • Dmitry's answer has changed from +1/0 (before) to +2/-1 (after). Down-vote reason is probably not worth the bounty compared to sudodus' answer, or might be the counter-vote that balances my earlier vote. No new comment.

My evaluation: sudodus' answer not only answers the question itself, but also written in a way that could guide the readers to understand how a bootable Live USB is different from an ISO image or a Live CD. In fact, this is the only answer that clearly described the way a Live USB may be created by cloning or extracting, in addition to the reason "why".

Based on my evaluation, sudodus' answer deserves the bounty.


P.S.: This meta answer is specific to the example post, and may not be applicable to other underappreciated posts.

P.P.S: The bounty has been awarded (2019-08-01 14:32:44Z)

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    I'm the other guy who upvoted Dmitry's answer. – sudodus Aug 2 at 14:40

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