Ah, the Internet. It’s truly the miracle of the modern age in so many ways. We have instant access to all the information we could ever need. Want to know how to clean your mattress or how you can start using essential oils in your home? How about if you want to learn how to make something yummy? All of this and more can be found with the click of a button.
Unfortunately, when you give people anonymity and a means of doing whatever they want, the results aren’t always representative of modern man’s advanced intelligence. People also use the Internet to do a lot of silly things, many of which often end up here on Wimp right alongside the useful stuff. One thing you can count on when it comes to being online is that humor will often turn up in some rather unexpected places, such as online polls to pick a name for something. If a write-in candidate is allowed, the results can often be hilarious.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is an organization that is responsible for the majority of funding for independent scientific and environmental research in the United Kingdom. They’re currently building a 410-foot research vessel that will cost around $300 million. It will be decked out with all the latest technology, and, upon completion, will take scientists to the Antarctic to study climate change on expeditions lasting several months at a time.
In order to generate publicity and get people involved, they decided to hold an online vote to choose a name for the new ship. Here it is below, in all its $300 million glory.
So what kind of name is at the top? Royal Research Ship (RRS) Valiant? Maybe the RRS Endeavor, or the RRS Explorer?
Nope. When you leave the Internet alone with something, it comes up with this:
That’s right! The top name, by a margin of several thousand votes, is “Boaty McBoatface …”
… a name which seriously sounds like it’s straight out of the Toot the Tugboat children’s series.
Naturally, reactions to the name are somewhat mixed.
The NERC has stated that it reserves the right to review/refuse any name. Sadly, we’re probably not going to actually get an RRS Boaty McBoatface anytime soon.
This hasn’t been the only case of hilarity ensuing from an open poll on the Internet, by the way. In 2012, Walmart held a promotion where they’d send singer/rapper Pitbull to the Walmart location with the most likes on their Facebook page.
After two comedians hijacked the polls, the Walmart in Kodiak, Alaska got nearly 60,000 likes – roughly 10 times the island’s population. To his credit, though, Pitbull actually went!
Greenpeace also learned the power of online jokesters back in 2007, when they held a vote to name some humpback whales they’d satellite tagged for conservation efforts. After the poll was spotted by Reddit, “Mr. Splashy Pants” quickly became the top name, and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian himself designed the logo below, which helped mobilize more netizens to voting it in.
Due to all the extra publicity they got raising awareness about whales, Greenpeace went ahead and named one of the whales Mr. Splashy Pants.
This is the Megyeri Bridge in Budapest, Hungary. While it was being constructed in 2006, the Hungarian government held an online vote to name it.
Comedian Stephen Colbert caught wind of it and urged his viewers (the “Colbert Nation”) to vote for it. Fans flooded the votes and he won by an overwhelming majority through two separate rounds of voting. Ultimately, the Hungarian government decided not to name it after him, but they did give him a visa to come visit!
Colbert was also the winner of an online poll held by NASA to name a new wing of the International Space Station back around 2009.
Sadly, NASA decided not to go with naming the entire node after him. They did, however, install an exercise machine in the wing that he would have won, and called it the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (C.O.L.B.E.R.T.).
Then, of course, there was the case of New Zealand and their new national flag not too long ago, which included brilliant submissions such as these:
Maybe there’s a lesson to be learned here. Next time you’re thinking of letting the Internet name something, just don’t, no matter how tempting it may be.