I don't mean to sound selfish, here, but, I need to register two minor "complaints".

Many of my yeshiva rebbeim taught me that the question is always more important than the answer. So, in actuality, I'm registering two related complaints:

1 - Do you have a "Best Questions" contest? Maybe I missed seeing this.

2 - It's nice that you award bounties to the answerer. But, seriously, without the question being there, you wouldn't have the answer, and hence, no award, correct? In other words, the questioner offered the opportunity for the answer. So, what about in addition to the award for the answerer, giving half that amount to the questioner?

Call this a "minor" complaint. I'm not fretting over your current policy. I just think that what I mentioned sounds fair.

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  • What? What? My question no good? – DanF May 5 '17 at 21:12
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    @DanF Voting is different on meta. I assume at least one person doesn't think your complaint has merit. – MTL May 7 '17 at 2:57
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    Is this technically feature-request and not discussion? – DonielF May 8 '17 at 15:45

There's a Best Answers contest because one community member (me) volunteered to run it and to "donate" bounties as prizes. So, if there's a "you" to address here, it's me. However, if the question is about what features the community should have, the correct address is "we."

1) We could have and could benefit from a Best Questions contest. You are welcome to run one, if you like. If you want to offer bounties as prizes, you're welcome to do that, as well, though you'll have to do something less straightforward than rewarding an answer with a bounty on that answer.

2) The purpose of the Best Answers contest is to bring attention to great answers. When an answer gets attention, the question that prompted it naturally does, too. The points are just there to give a sense of consequences, to prompt people to participate. Awarding points through some less-direct mechanism to the associated askers wouldn't serve this purpose.

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  • On said question, the questioner could post an answer along the lines of "This question was voted best question 5777 Q3" with the bounty. Can an answer with a bounty be deleted without removing the bounty points? – DonielF May 8 '17 at 15:48
  • @DonielF I don't know, but that would be, IMO, an undesirable use of the core Q/A mechanism. – Isaac Moses May 8 '17 at 15:52
  • Shame you can't just give someone points directly. – DonielF May 8 '17 at 15:54
  • @DonielF See Monica's answer. – Isaac Moses May 8 '17 at 15:54

Isaac addressed the points about the contest that he generously sponsors with his own reputation (and pointed out that others can sponsor contests too). I'll address question value more generally.

Questions are obviously necessary in order to have answers, and for that reason both questions and answers can earn reputation through upvotes. The amounts are different, though, because the main goal of Q&A sites is in fact getting to the answers -- and because, in addition to reputation, the asker is getting his question answered.

Optimizing For Pearls, Not Sand on the SE blog explains the philosophy of question rewards:

Perhaps you’ve noticed a theme here. Incoming questions are a universal constant, all around us in countless billions. But answers — truly brilliant, amazing, correct answers — are as rare as pearls. Thus, questions are merely the sand that produces the pearl. If we have learned anything in the last three years, it is that you optimize for pearls, not sand.

Please don't take this as a negative comment about questions in general. A well-asked question is a thing of beauty,1 and tends to be rewarded with votes and badges and shared links. And, we hope, also with good answers. But no, we can't award bounties to questions.

1 I would not be surprised to find that the ratio of well-asked questions varies from site to site. Jeff was probably writing primarily about SO, where they tend to get a lot of hasty, sloppy questions. I think we do better than that, but the philosophy of focusing on answers still holds.

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