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I had two answers to my Star Trek question and chose a correct answer then awarded a bounty however the bounty shows up on the incorrect answer.

The answer which shows the bounty somehow shows my bounty award but a. It doesn’t answer the question, b. It has more votes (because it is older).

Does the bounty always go to the most votes, no matter what the asker decides is correct?

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A bounty will only be awarded under three specific circumstances:

The bounty period lasts 7 days. Bounties must have a minimum duration of at least 1 day. After the bounty ends, there is a grace period of 24 hours to manually award the bounty. Simply click the bounty award icon next to each answer to permanently award your bounty to the answerer. (You cannot award a bounty to your own answer.)

If you do not award your bounty within 7 days (plus the grace period), the highest voted answer created after the bounty started with a minimum score of 2 will be awarded half the bounty amount (or the full amount, if the answer is also accepted). If two or more eligible answers have the same score (their scores are tied), the oldest answer is chosen. If there's no answer meeting those criteria, no bounty is awarded to anyone.

If the bounty was started by the question owner, and the question owner accepts an answer posted during the bounty period, and the bounty expires without an explicit award then we assume the bounty owner liked the answer they accepted and award it the full bounty amount at the time of bounty expiration.

Considering that the answer that was awarded the bounty is neither accepted nor was posted after the bounty was started that means that options 2 and 3 are ruled out and so you must have manually awarded the bounty. That means one of two things happened: you either clicked the wrong answer to award it to or a bug occurred and the system mistakenly awarded it to the wrong answer.

Just to be a bit more concrete to "prove" that the bounty was manually awarded you can see on the answer's timeline that it is attributed to you: "bounty end Vogon Poet Winning bounty for question Id = 218842". Whereas if it is automatically awarded Community takes ownership of the bounty as we see here on a random SO bounty by myself as it was easy to find: " bounty end Community♦ Winning bounty for question Id = 42162258".

Unfortunately unless you can prove you did click the accepted answer and didn't misclick and so it was a bug not much can really happen in terms of reversing the bounty to give it to the other answer.

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  • 70 seconds ... not bad eh. – Rand al'Thor Sep 23 '19 at 13:32
  • @Randal'Thor And different sources for the bounty stuff which is nice. Perhaps I shouldn't have stopped writing it to do some work... – TheLethalCarrot Sep 23 '19 at 13:33
  • OK very strange, I literally clicked “accept answer” check mark then award bounty in the same motion so the screen must have scrolled itself while I was clicking :( – Vogon Poet Sep 23 '19 at 13:45
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    @VogonPoet I can't remember exactly how it works, but there's a possibility the page refreshes on an accept, or at least the answers re-order inline, so the answer would have moved from the bottom to the top and you might not have noticed it and so clicked the wrong one. – TheLethalCarrot Sep 23 '19 at 13:47
  • Just for the record, the first option (manually awarding the bounty) is strongly encouraged. The other two are just in case you forget or go on vacation or are struck by a meteorite or something. They are not the recommended way of using the bounty feature. – Kevin Sep 29 '19 at 16:22
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If you award the bounty manually, it goes to the answer you selected.

We can see in the revision history of that question that you chose the higher-voted but not accepted answer to award the bounty to:

Bounty Ended with jwodder's answer chosen by Vogon Poet
occurred 12 mins ago

If that wasn't the answer you meant to award it to, then you misclicked. No system is immune to user error :-)

Bounties can be awarded automatically, but that's not what happened here.

From the main meta FAQ about bounties:

Approximately 24 hours after the end of the bounty period (once the grace period ends), if the bounty starter has not manually awarded the bounty, the bounty may be awarded automatically.

If the author offered the bounty, and accepted an answer that was posted after the bounty was started, that answer is awarded the full bounty.

Otherwise, all or half of the bounty is awarded to the highest-scored answer out of those which...

  • ...were posted after the bounty was started, and
  • ...have a score of at least 2 (at the time the automatic awarding takes place), and
  • ...were not written by the bounty starter.

If the chosen answer was accepted by the question owner, it will receive the full bounty. Otherwise, it will receive half the bounty. If two eligible answers have the same score, the older answer is chosen.

If no answer meets any of the above two criteria, the bounty is not awarded to any answer, and is not refunded to the bounty starter.

However, in this case the full bounty was awarded manually by you, so none of this actually happened. I mention it only in case this meta thread will be useful in future to others confused over the bounty being awarded to the 'wrong' answer.

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