By now most people are aware that the value of question upvotes was changed, and millions of reputation points were retroactively awarded. For the purposes of this question let's ignore any debates about whether this was a positive change or a negative change. The fact remains that in the blink of an eye a huge overhaul was applied to the system. People's reputations have drastically changed, and the standing of many users on their particular sites has been upheaved.

My question is pretty straightforward: If this could happen today, what could happen tomorrow?

As far as I can tell, no process was published explaining the details of how this change was decided. No vote was taken. No one was asked if it should be done (I think the moderators were told in advance, but I don't think they were asked.)

If this is the case, is it possible that tomorrow someone will decide that answer upvotes should only be worth five points, and immediately recalculate everyone's reputation? Or perhaps even answers should be worth no points? Or perhaps reputation should be discarded altogether?

The point is that the precedent this decision sets is staggering. Is there anything ensuring that only certain types of changes will be made? Do we know that we will be able to wake up the next morning and still recognize the site?

This post is not intended as any kind of conspiracy theory, or fear-mongering, or even criticism. I am simply curious if there are any safeguards in place that would prevent enormous changes from being made against the will of the community, or if this issue has been discussed at all.

Can I contribute to the site today and feel confident that everything won't be summarily reevaluated tomorrow?

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    This question seems uselessly vague. In the literal senses: odds are good nothing is going to change tomorrow, November 14th/15th, 2019; answers will probably never be worth no points as long as points exist; etc.. For any future tomorrow, for any future change that you deem reevaluation of everything? No. – Ry- Nov 14 '19 at 0:47
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    Realistically you can't. The calculus has fundamentally changed. At one point, changes were worked through with Meta. That has been in steady decline since Jeff left, to the point where Meta is irrelevant to the company. Their actions dictate that they have no interest in interacting on meta at a strategic level, and we now must deal with that. – George Stocker Nov 14 '19 at 0:48
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    @Ry- A couple of weeks ago you might have said the same thing... – Alex Nov 14 '19 at 0:48
  • I am fairly confident that SE would largely refrain from taking any action that would adversely affect your reputation. Simply because that would cause a huge uproar (even more than that caused by Monica/CoC-gate). This change only increases reputation across the network. – Cave Johnson Nov 14 '19 at 0:54
  • @Alex: Which same thing? (It’s going to be either “no, I wouldn’t have” or “yes, and it remains true”.) – Ry- Nov 14 '19 at 1:21
  • @Ry- Your comment about things not changing. – Alex Nov 14 '19 at 1:23
  • @Alex: What, “answers will probably never be worth no points as long as points exist”? Yes, I would have said that a couple of weeks ago. I’m also saying it now… – Ry- Nov 14 '19 at 1:36
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    Why do you think this is such a staggering precedent? They've removed the rep penalty for downvoting questions, added rep (and later taken away, sort of?) for SO documentation, added various types of comment and question title filtering, and so forth. Not everything Jeff did was fully discussed (though a much higher % was), and many times his ultimate solution wasn't the one the community wanted. And it's still early, but "the community" seems closer to a 40/60 split compared to say the full negative from removing hot MSO posts from SO. – Troyen Nov 14 '19 at 1:37
  • @Ry- What would you have said about question value changing? – Alex Nov 14 '19 at 1:37
  • @Alex: Nothing ruling out this change? “I hope they make downvotes worth ‒10” is something I’ve said for longer, also pretty controversial. – Ry- Nov 14 '19 at 1:44
  • @Troyen Because this change is retroactive. If they announce tomorrow that answers will no longer earn reputation I can choose to stop posting answers. But I can’t choose to undo the 1,000+ answers I’ve already posted on the assumption of earning reputation for them. – Alex Nov 14 '19 at 1:45
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    This isn't the first time they've retroactively changed reputation. Iirc, they did the same thing when you were suddenly able to keep rep from deleted posts if the posts were older than 60 days. In the past decade or so, we've had several major recalcs from system changes. I doubt this one will be the last. – Troyen Nov 14 '19 at 1:49
  • @Troyen If I was around for those I might have posted the same thing. Though this one does seem by far to be the largest scale, and affects a more fundamental aspect of the site. – Alex Nov 14 '19 at 1:50
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    @Alex: Have you taken a poll? Anyway, that brings me back to “this question seems uselessly vague”. You’re asking if anything surprising is going to happen in the future. Somewhere between maybe and very probably depending on your threshold for surprise? – Ry- Nov 14 '19 at 1:54
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    "in the blink of an eye a huge overhaul was applied to the system": only from your perspective. It took a lot of work by SE, and moderators received earlier notice of the change. – Raedwald Nov 25 '19 at 16:56

Can I contribute to the site today and feel confident that everything won't be summarily reevaluated tomorrow?

Nope. You can't even feel confident that the content license you gave won't be arbitrarily converted to different terms.

There might be a guideline to try to minimize bugs or odd hiccups in user experience, but such things should still be expected.

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