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When Internet naming contests go wrong

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Mar 22nd, 2016

It always sounds like a great idea.

According to the Independent, England’s National Environment Research Council decided to let the Internet name its new, £ 200 million research vessel.

Currently in second place? Henry Worsley, the British explorer who died in January near the end of his attempt to become the first person to cross the Antarctic unaided.

And if first place? Why, Boaty McBoatface, of course.

Apparently James Hand, a former BBC presenter, suggested the name. As things on the Internet tend to do, the idea took off.

Before the site crashed Sunday, the name had over 30,000 votes, 8,000 more than Worsley.

“I have apologized profusely,” Hands said. “The storm that’s been created – it’s got legs of its own.”

Truth is, it’s not the first time allowing the Internet to name something has gone wrong.

Back in 2007, Greenpeace held a contest to name a whale they were trying to prevent the Japanese from poaching. The winner? Mr. Splashy Pants.

In 2011, the City of Austin held a contest for a new name for its Solid Waste Services Department. The response was overwhelming, and the winner, by a large margin, was the “Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts.” Needless to say, the city stuck with the original moniker.

In 2012, Mountain Dew held a “Dub the Dew” contest for a new, green apple-flavoured drink. Names like Diabeetus, Fapple and Gushing Granny were among those suggested, and “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” was in the lead when Pepsi Co shut down the contest.

And closer to home, in 2015, BC Ferries launched a social media campaign to name its new ferries. The organization subsequently had their high-paid management mocked in names like HMS Cantafford, The Queen of Poor Management, Coastal Extortion, Spirit of Lack of Oversight and Queen of the Overfunded. In the end, they went with Salish Orca, Salish Eagle and Salish Raven. Far less interesting than the Queen of the Overfunded.


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