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:
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"
"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.
has become a term for the ongoing latent conflict between SE and many of their users.