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I've seen a few questions, including this one, that have a bounty awarded (often large) to a non-accepted and usually not top answer, by Community. These seem somewhat arbitrary, as the answer referenced does not seem to be particularly well suited to the question.

Are these just random rep-boosters? I'm assuming they serve some larger purpose?

Just curious. Thanks!

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Community will auto-award bounties 24 hours after their expiration under the following criteria:

Twenty-four hours after the end of the bounty period, if the bounty starter has not manually awarded the bounty, an eligible answer can be automatically awarded half the bounty amount. The criteria for an answer to be eligible for automatic awarding are as follows:

  • The answer must be given after the bounty was started
  • The answer must have a score of at least +2

If two or more eligible answers have the same score, the oldest answer is awarded the bounty.

So the timeline is:

  1. Bounty is offered
  2. Answer is posted and voted up to at least +2
  3. Bounty period (and 24 hour grace period) expires without the user who offered it awarding the bounty to anyone
  4. Community auto-awards half of the bounty to the answer from #2 above

Additional info can be found on MSO in How does the bounty system work?

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