Recently I came across the following question:

Fundamental forces behind covalent bonding

Here, Terry Bollinger answered the question on July 1 2012. But recently someone bountied (right word?) the question, probably Jan on April 19 2016.

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And Terry's answer got the bounty on April 26 2016.

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Is that possible? Can a bounty be offered to old answers? I know that when a bounty is offered to a question, there is a period of 7 days called bounty period within which an answer is posted and if the answer is considered good, the bounty is applied to that fresh answer.

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    $\begingroup$ Why not? What rule does prevent someone to award bounty to old answers? If I like someone's answer and want to thank him apart from merely upvoting, I can put up a bounty on the question and award the bounty to the concerned answer. There can be many reason acting behind the purpose; but I'm sure there is no rule that bars us from doing this. $\endgroup$ – user5764 May 3 '16 at 5:11
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    $\begingroup$ The maximum bounty period is seven days, the minimum is one day. Bounties can be awarded to any answer. See the help centre. They are an additional way of marking a great answer. In the bounty dance this is also explicitly one option: meta.chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/3030/… So if you see an excellent answer, but you cannot afford the bounty, create an entry there. (That would be nice. Thank you.) $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン May 3 '16 at 12:30

Yes that was me. I stumbled across the question, read it, read the answers, and thought ‘wow, yes, in my opinion this is what an answer on Stack Exchange look like; extensive, readable, I like it.’ Well, offering bounties is a preferred Stack Exchange way of saying thank you, if you are not the question owner and cannot accept. (Or if you are the question owner but want to reward two people’s answers.) See the help centre.

As per the underlying system, a bounty can be offered on every question older than two days that is not closed. And by anyone who has achieved at least 75 reputation.

Bountied questions are kept in the featured tab for a week to hopefully draw even more attention to them and (hopefully) give the good questions/answers even more upvotes. At least for the subsequent bounty I offered on a different question after I awarded Terry his bounty that worked; at least five upvotes were dropped in the bounty period if I’m not mistaken. Featuring is ended if the bounty is awarded.

Of course there is a second reason for adding a bounty other than rewarding answers: attracting them. It doesn’t matter what the bounty is for, attention is always good. It will say in the bounty notification why it is there.

And please do not forget to add both questions and answers to the bounty dance!

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    $\begingroup$ I love it when a lot of meta posts are linked, esp. Mart's dainty bounce. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. May 5 '16 at 5:45

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