Is it appropriate to use a bounty to say 'thank you' for an already-supplied answer? Will the site let you assign a bounty to an answer that exists at the time you read the question?

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I would say that bounties, besides being a motivator for answer, are a way to pass an amount of rep to another user if you have a good reason to do so. So I agree with Jake. –  tohecz Dec 11 '12 at 11:56

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Yes, this is definitely possible. When you offer a bounty, you get to choose from a number of possible "bounty reasons", with one of them being

Reward existing answer

One or more of the answers is exemplary and worthy of an additional bounty.

There is a 24 hour waiting period, but then you can assign the bounty to whichever answer you choose.

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And to add that this has been done enough times that I no longer remark on it so it is not just possible it is "standard practice" when one feels that the reputation system needs a helping hand. –  Loop Space Dec 11 '12 at 12:11
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@AndrewStacey Although I was a bit surprised to see that there is no badge being awarded for doing so. You get one for trading reputation against new answers but for selflessly giving away reputation that you wouldn't have to, you get nothing. Not that that would be the idea of selflessness ;) but still, looking at what earns you badges, I was surprised that this doesn't. –  Christian Dec 12 '12 at 17:28
    
@Christian There is a badge for setting a bounty on someone else's question. Maybe that's close enough that the overlords haven't thought of this as needing a special one. –  Loop Space Dec 12 '12 at 17:40
    
@Andrew I know; there's a badge for about anything. That's why I can't understand that for something that my gut thinks really should earn you something, there isn't. Maybe I just got myself to much of a fantasy socialization where good deeds always get you some kind of reward ;) –  Christian Dec 13 '12 at 9:08
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@Christian You get a warm glow from Doing a Good Deed and if you're really lucky Paulo might draw an animal for you. What more do you want? –  Loop Space Dec 13 '12 at 9:17
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@Andrew A hand-drawn animal would be quite nice actually ;) Besides, I do not want anything, I just expressed my impressions and opinion :) –  Christian Dec 13 '12 at 12:46

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