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The FAQ merely states it. There is no reason that I could see. Could it be to let enough people see the question in the hope that someone would be willing to answer without the incentive of a bounty? Or is it some precaution to prevent the system being "gamed" in some way?

Assuming that someone can answer but is holding out for a bounty, shouldn't the asker be allowed to offer a bounty sooner, even immediately, if the asker wants a speedy (and satisfactory) answer?

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It is for giving other users equal chance of giving answers and gaining reputation and prevent possible abuse.

  • I have speculated as such in the question, if not in those exact words. But shouldn't getting an answer quickly be given priority over allowing more people to see the question? As for abusing the system, the asker's rep will decline in proportion to the bounty. I'm not clear about what sort of abuse is envisaged. – user25656 Oct 13 '12 at 5:48
  • The abuse is like creating a close group for questioning and answering quickly. – Anwar Oct 13 '12 at 5:59
  • Yes, but isn't it a zero-sum game? In the bounty scenario, the asker loses (and has to have the rep in the first place). I think the chance of rigging is more in the regular (non-bounty) section because both the asker and answerer gain. In any case, veterans here will probably spot such activities if they are frequent. – user25656 Oct 13 '12 at 6:21
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    @vasa1 Not really--a bounty draws attention to a question, and other users are more apt to vote on answers on high-attention questions, especially if the bounty is made to reward an existing answer. – hexafraction Oct 13 '12 at 17:48
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The bounty system is only supposed to be used after you put in sufficient efforts to get the question answered through conventional means. If you don't get a answer, you are expected to improve, clarify, and document your continued efforts. These activities bump your question to give it more exposure. Bounties are an escalation of that process.

Potential overuse of the bounty feature brings with it a concern — an expectation could develop where folks think can can only get good answers to your questions if you paid someone to answer it. Of course, that's not so.

So if after two days you still don't have an answer you like, you can offer a bounty. Slice off a bit of your own hard-earned reputation...

Only after all other efforts fail, bounties come to the rescue... later. The delay is by design.

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