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There was a totally awesome answer to someone else's question that really helped me out. So I want to award an additional bounty... just as a way of iterating this. I started a bounty, and checked that it was for an existing answer.

And I have to wait 24 hours to award it.

Why is that? And if there's no real reason... can we change it?

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This has been asked and answered on the main Stack Exchange meta. The delay is justified with two reasons:

  • If a bounty is awarded quickly, it discourages other potentially better answers.
  • Some seemingly unnecessary restrictions on the bounty system are there to prevent abuse.

The first point is the most important, I think. Bounties are a mechanic for incentivising high-quality site content, and it makes a lot of sense for the 24-hour period to be read as a kind of dare to other users: "I think this answer is worth 200 rep. Can you do better?"

The question isn't "What does the delay prevent from happening?" but rather "What would an instant transaction inhibit which a delay allows?"

Bounties are incentives for encouraging high-quality answers, not a tool for moving reputation around. Giving a 24-hour period for other answerers to step up their game results in a net gain for the site which immediate reputation-exchange transactions does not.

It's not about frustrating your desire to reward a good answer--you still can, obviously. The delay is designed to goose the entire site's forward momentum, at the cost of asking a little patience on the part of people who have already shown a willingness to go out of their way to personally reward awesomeness. This inserts a bit of healthy competition into a mechanism which might otherwise quell ambition: at the very least, it gives 24 hours for everyone else to see "Hey, if I write a good enough answer, someone might give me a massive lump sum for it!" Makes the transaction public, y'see?

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    \$\begingroup\$ But, the thing about this particular option (and to be clear, there is an option there for it), there's already an answer- even several answers. The question has already been open for several days. I'm rewarding a specific answer, not asking for more, which is what the choice says. Why... in this particular instance which is an option... does that delay make sense? \$\endgroup\$ – Chuck Dee Feb 19 '15 at 2:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because the added incentive wasn't there for those several days, and now it is; Awarding the bounty without the delay would mean that people would have no time to be incentivised by it. This is because most questions never have bounties, so people don't expect them. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 19 '15 at 3:26

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