38

I just answered on Warning potential new moderators? and people (rightfully) rejected my first version where I spoke about "the Monica situation".

I agree, we shouldn't associate the name of a specific person like that.

On the other hand, that question just says

about current events here on meta

"Current events" is pretty nothing-telling, and in say 6 months, a new person reading that question will be like "what events?"

The "best" I came up with to denote "the current events" was to call it the

"CoC 2019 updates / de-modding related" situation

But coming from programming, I know that proper naming is extremely important.

So: what would be a better term to denote "the current events situation", for future communication?

Edit: it's different from How can we improve the inconsistent tagging of the questions relating to the recent uproar and associated issues?. I am not asking about tags. I am asking about a verbal term, that can be used in direct human to human communication.

14 Answers 14

38

I don't think it's possible to capture the 'current events' into a single word or short phrase that's short enough to be used as a (hash)tag. There are just too many things going on right now, and different people will tend to put more emphasis on different topics.

Of course, most users are concerned, one way or another, about the Code of Conduct changes and how Stack Overflow Inc. treated (and still treats) Monica. Those are probably the most visible topics right now. But, as I mentioned here, there are other things people worry about: they see a company which

  • shows highly inappropriate advertisements and seems to be unable/unwilling to do something about it
  • unilaterally changes the license without having the right to do so
  • generally seems to struggle with its presence on Meta Stack Exchange and Meta Stack Overflow (I'm not up-to-date with the current status on MSO, but here is an example)

Overall, I would be tempted to call it something like the 'increasing disconnect between the community and Stack Overflow Inc.' but that's probably already too long for your purpose. My apologies, I'm not good at writing short titles.

A final thought; it's a bad analogy, but the term 'First World War' wasn't used until just a few months before it actually ended (source). And it only started to become widespread twenty years later when the Second World War began (the moment when it would really make sense to call something 'first'). So it might be a bit early too tell how to name the 'current events' precisely because they are current.

27

I think it would be a mistake to try to name the current situation as if it were one particular thing. It’s not the “licensingdemoddingbadapologyantiLGBQTlanguagecoercedspeechresignationstrikeCoCchangeinsertnegativefeelingshere” situation.

When we speak of something, we should be clear about what we’re speaking about and not just wave our hands and say “all of this stuff”. It’s not constructive to be vague. If you’re talking about the unethical way Monica was and continues to be treated, say that. If you’re talking about how SE management has stopped responding to the community about Monica’s treatment, then say that.

Labeling a huge mess of negativity as “The 2019 Situation” or whatever isn’t productive. It leads to inflammatory discussions where people think they know what someone else is talking about, but no-one is actually on the same page, because everyone understands it differently.

  • 1
    On the other hand, can't that be said about any larger "situation"? When two people talk about "the second world war", they could be thinking of completely separate sub-aspects of that war; and yet it makes sense to have "one term" to label the overall thing? – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 8:17
  • @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica Why does it need to have a label other than "the current drama"? Labeling tends to lead to over-generalization and sloppy thinking. Any label that tries to make a myriad of issues look like one would probably be used to incite people to action. Everyone will be there for different reasons but here we are with our pitchforks and torches so lets make something happen! We're angry! About things! Except that doesn't actually solve anything. Each problem has different solutions and it doesn't help to lump them together. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 13 at 12:27
  • So "the current drama" isn't overly general and invites for sloppy thinking? And beyond that, it obviously loses all meaning when you add the time dimension. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 12:30
  • @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica Assigning things a label is different from having to actually think up words to express your exact meaning when you're writing. Why do you want to label it? So you can just use that label without thinking about it and assume everyone knows what you are talking about. Sometimes that's very useful, like me being able to say "Amelia says" instead of "the Italian grandmother who is wearing a red shirt today says". Sometimes that's not useful, like when you're trying to solve a problem involving X and Y but no-one agrees on what X and Y actually are. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 13 at 12:38
  • @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica I read my comments again, and they seem more confrontational than I meant them. I think this post is a stellar example of expressing exactly what someone means when discussing what’s going on - I feel that if we start using a label, the level of discussion would drop. We would see less people putting effort into explaining their POV. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 13 at 15:24
  • Thanks for that link. And I agree to what you say, I just see that people do use labels, and "labeling being bad" won't stop them doing that. I come from the pragmatic side of things that goes "okay, now that labels are used, what would be a decent label that most people could go with" ... – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 15:32
  • @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica I don’t think helping to normalize something I think is a bad solution because a lot of people seem to be going that route is reasonable. I can’t help tilting at windmills. I think resisting futilely is still worthwhile, if only to demonstrate that not everyone agrees. I am blessed to live in a country where expressing a “bad” opinion has surprisingly few consequences. I feel obligated to seize the opportunity to object when it arises ;) And if I make one other person reflect on how labeling things taints their thinking, that’s not nothing. – ColleenV parted ways Nov 13 at 15:42
24

I've been calling it The Mess, and so far no one has objected. According to Macmillan Dictionary, a mess (noun) is

a difficult situation with a lot of problems, especially because people have made mistakes

Although one user (@cp engr) correctly pointed out that there are several messes, they all add up to The Mess or maybe The Big Mess. My first thought was to call it The Can of Worms, but although intended humorously, that would be disrespectful to people who already have more than enough to contend with, and I doubt they would think it funny.

  • 5
    I like it because it is not centered around the CoC. The CoC is not the problem per se. It was more a trigger, the last drop. The problem is how SE Inc handle a lot of mistakes and missteps. They dont know how to handle a community. This is awful when their whole product is community centered. This is a mess, this is The Mess. – aloisdg says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 10:29
  • 2
    Maybe make it " The October '19 Mess". Even though I hope we don't need to specify the messes too detailed in the future because they are so many... – Helmar Nov 12 at 12:43
  • 3
    There are multiple messes. Currently. – cp.engr Nov 12 at 19:17
  • @aloisdgsaysReinstateMonica, for many the new CoC is also a problem, mainly for the new gender pronouns rule, seemed as a form of coercion of speech. – Paulo Coghi - Reinstate Monica Nov 13 at 19:00
15

Trying to use a short word or phrase to describe the current events is difficult because those events consist of several things, as Glorfindel and ColleenV say. But there is a bigger problem than that. Using a short word or phrase suggests that the current events are mostly about or are caused by only one thing, which can be used as an attempt to frame the current problems in a particular way. And doing that can be explicitly or implicitly pushing a particular political viewpoint as the correct viewpoint. We should be careful to avoid that.

14

Stack Exchange's Biggest Error of Licencing and Gender use Involving User Monica

Unfortunately, the abbreviation is (NSFW):

Belgium - the rudest word in the Universe.

Use:

Noun: Stack Exchange has made a complete Belgium of this!
Verb: Oh, no, they've Belgiumed it up, again!
Exclamation: Oh Belgium, what have they done now?!

Example: "Aaargh, Belgium! They've Belgiumed the bloody Belgium. It's all gone completely Belgium!"

  • 1
    Knowing a few nice people from Belgium, I kinda disagree to use that abbreviation, but you got my vote for the mouse-hovering hiding of content. – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 15:06
  • 1
    Plus 1 for making me think of The Office – codeMagic Nov 12 at 15:35
  • 1
    @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica, but even Belgium people must admit that the state of Belgium is quite a mess. – VikingoS says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 16:00
  • 1
    @GhostCatsaysReinstateMonica: If a state has to exists more than a year without Government, we can safely assume: it's a mess. Just to make it clear: I talk about the state. not the people. not the societies (note plural). – VikingoS says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 16:23
  • When did he say it? When falling from the 25-km-high statue of Arthur Dent? – Peter Mortensen Nov 17 at 0:05
  • 1
    Isn't the spoilered text only in the US version, while in UK a more common expletive was used, and thus no explanation was needed? – April --Un-Slander Monica-- Nov 18 at 14:47
8

"The Distancing"

Several different "sides" have emerged with that seem to be conflicting. Instead of one diverse community consisting of a large number of people with different ideas that respects despite disagreement, now there are different factions with viewpoints about the site's direction that are viewed as incompatible. Long-simmering feelings have been let out on many sides, due to lack of validation, respect, and trust. Recent events have shown that the straw was placed on the camel's back and it broke. While some appear to be interested in uniting and coming back together, many remain far apart, distant.

I can only hope that soon there will be

"The Reconciliation"

  • 3
    Distancing happens since many months methinks, just not that loud. But I still like your ideas, especially part 2! – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 11 at 19:34
  • Yea, nobody's gonna know what that means without having seen this answer. – Cerbrus Nov 12 at 8:48
7

The CoC Exodus

The CoC change (and Monica), triggered a mass exodus, in more ways than one.

It caused many users to leave the site. It caused many moderators to step down and become regular users. And it caused many active moderating users to become lurkers (or only-posters).

All of these moves, I would call exoduses. They're groups of people departing from their roles on the site.

The only thing I don't like about this name is the religious connotation the word "exodus" has. I've tried "The CoC Departure," "The CoC Abandonment" and "The CoC Evacuation." But I feel that none of these capture the feeling of what's happening as well as "exodus."

7

Stack Exchange: Civil War

Inspired by MCU and the real historical events, this is the best fitting name for our situation.

SE Inc: Give up.

Community: I can do this all day.

4

I like to call it... the cataclysm.

Because that's what it is.

  • Not TOTAL ARMAGEDDON AND THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT -- IT'S THE END¿ Do you feel fine? Do you? – bobobobo Nov 18 at 20:12
4

Of course, what we call it will evolve, as the situation evolves. Right now no one has a crystal ball to show us the eventual outcome, so it's impossible to predict a name that would be accurate farther down the road.

But that doesn't mean we can't use descriptive titles now. Here are some that work for me:

Crisis of Trust

this one focuses on how many moderators and contributors are feeling.

SE Mismanagement

this one focuses on the hamfistedness.


I would like to find a way to include the image of a stupid cat stuck in a tree, having run up there impulsively, without knowing how to come down again. Management appears to be stuck in some sort of paralysis, stubbornly unable to back down from the outrageous position it finds itself in.

3

What would be a better term to denote "the current events situation", for future communication?

I believe it is unloaded to refer to it as the "October 2019 CoC fallout".

Incomplete timeline (a link to a detailed timeline is below, that's where there's a Wiki):

Fast forward a few weeks ...

A post was created detailing which moderators were resigning, reducing their workload or otherwise annoyed. A chronology of events is included at the end of the post, despite recent updates almost every entry is for the month of October (one entry in the prior month and none for November).

More than a week later an apology is made,

and moderators reiterated their dismay.

Another week and calls for reparation go unanswered.

Another week and feedback is sought on a policy concerning the removal of moderators. The previous post had almost -2K downvotes, this is Take 2.

Arguably it was the end of September, but "fallout" truly landed throughout October.

Definition of fallout (noun):

  1. a : the often radioactive particles stirred up by or resulting from a nuclear explosion and descending through the atmosphere also : other polluting particles (such as volcanic ash) descending likewise

     b : descent (as of fallout) through the atmosphere

  1. : a secondary and often lingering effect, result, or set of consequences

     // have to take a position and accept the political fallout — Andy Logan

  • It makes sense, although it neither started nor ended in October, so it might make sense to drop the month. Keeping the year probably makes sense, since there was some CoC drama in 2018 as well. The only problem is that people have coupled the CoC drama together with other unrelated issues like the licensing problem, and they want an umbrella term that refers to everything they're upset about, and some of those things have nothing whatsoever to do with the CoC. – user215040 Nov 12 at 0:43
  • What's the point of adding the whole timeline in this answer? – Cerbrus Nov 12 at 8:49
  • That's covered in my profile. – Rob Nov 12 at 12:13
  • Maybe the "3+4Q19 CoC fallout then"... – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 15:20
2

As this seem to be a never ending story, I propose the name

Eternal October of 2019

like the Usenet Eternal September brought to us by AOL.

-3

Since this is the result of a structural or systematic defect in the construction and design of this entire outfit, regarding build, feedback mechanisms, power hierarchy and responsiveness to criticism:

I suggest a systematic naming system:

  • date, serial number –– short title –– nickname

like for example

Note that empirically the date is expected to require a certain fine-grained structure. And the serial number is expected to increase quickly.

  • 2
    A bit too technical for me. As written in the question, I am looking for something that works in human-to-human communication, this is not about machine communication, and the need of programmatic access to dozens or hundreds of systematically named incidents. Albeit I see where you are coming from! – GhostCat says Reinstate Monica Nov 12 at 15:19
-10

There was a slow buildup to the current crisis over many years from posts on and off the SE network complaining about the hostility on Stack Overflow to the company's attempts to make the Stack Exchange sites and their communities more welcoming. The focus in this effort was mostly on newcomers to the sites at first, but quickly shifted to include other groups and has recently narrowed to the treatment of trans and queer gender minorities. The single most controversial subject in the discussion of how to make SE more welcoming was how to handle pronouns for people of unspecified or non-binary gender. The current crisis was triggered when SE fired a moderator for questioning the company's pronoun policy. Many have perceived the manner of that demotion as outrageously unfair to the moderator and as destructive to the community.

Judging by reports from members of the Teacher's Lounge, the debate about the use of pronouns was by far the most emotional and disruptive event on the site. Deeply personal stories have been shared and a lot of hurt has been inflicted. The handling of this discussion – and nothing else – has led to the firing of one and the resignation of other moderators from both sides of the argument. It seems to me that the severity of the issue that has been underlying the discussion of pronouns comes from an unlucky intersection of years of mismanagement by the owners of Stack Exchange and the fight for LGBTQ rights:

Graphic illustrating the intersection of the "SE mess" and "LGBTQ rights"

The "pronoun crisis" and what underlies it – the recognition of non-traditional lifestyles – is symptomatic for the culture at large and only finding another battlefield on this site. It has illuminated the failures of SE the company, but one is neither the cause nor the effect of the other.

I believe that a name for a historic event must be telling and unique. "The Mess" or other unspecific terms can be applied to many things that have been going on on SE over the years, and when in a decade someone reads of "the mess", they won't know which of the many messes that term refers to. "The pronoun crisis" or "the firing of Monica Cellio", on the other hand, will always and clearly be tied to this moment in time. No other terms have that distinction.

I therefore propose:

"the pronoun crisis"

or

"the firing of Monica Cellio"

To further explain my proposal, let us look at a well-known example from history.

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated. The assassination led directly to what was later called World War I. On its own, the assassination would of course never have caused a war, much less one of such horrendous proportions. But a long time before the assassination, the political situation in Europe had been building up to the point where this deed would have that consequence.

European Imperialism, the proclamation of the German Empire, a series of political crises from 1875 to 1913/14, and the European alliance systems have been given as the causes of World War I, and yet the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand eventually triggered its outbreak.

In a similar way, what will happen with Stack Exchange in the future will have been caused by the complex history of this community, and we cannot yet know and give a name to what will eventually come of it. But the question was not asking for a name about this whole period in the history of Stack Exchange, but for this brief moment in time, and this moment is defined by the discussion about pronouns in the same way that the assassination of the Archduke defined the outbreak of World War I.

It was the conflict about pronouns that caused Monica Cellio to be demoted, and it was her demotion that lead to the outcry that in turn lead to this reckoning with situation we're at.

To me, therefore, "the pronoun crisis" and "the firing of Monica Cellio" are fitting names for these past weeks.

The number of posts about pronouns and Monica make it clear that this it at the center of the recent events.

  • 29
    -1 because that makes it sound like the whole thing is about pronouns and it really, really isn't. The rot started way before pronouns were even mentioned, and continues way past when most users' concerns about clumsily-presented pronoun rules were satisfied. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 11 at 21:26
  • @user56reinstatemonica8 Thank you for your comment. Please see my edit. – I am not the way you speak Nov 12 at 18:23
  • 5
    Not really seeing your point I'm afraid. You're suggesting naming all this after the subject of the minor disagreement that an SO Inc used as an excuse to sack and publicly slander a moderator at a time of growing discontent between users and staff. Using your analogy, to me that seems like naming WW1 after the motivation of the Serbian nationalist who threw that bomb. It's just one part of the spark. – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 12 at 18:59
  • @user56reinstatemonica8 I have added another edit. – I am not the way you speak Nov 13 at 18:25
  • @tchrist I agree. Have edited. – I am not the way you speak Nov 17 at 4:57

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