If you want something done well, the old adage goes, do it yourself. Or to put it another way: if you don’t want your plan to go awry, don’t ask smart-arsed strangers for advice. Or to put it yet another way: Never Ask the Internet to Chip In. That’s what the British government found when they decided to ask the public to help choose a name for a polar research vessel. The ship “represents a leap forward in securing Britain’s place as a world leader in marine and climate change science,” according to the National Environment Research Council (NERC). It will be capable of spending up to 60 days in sea-ice at one time. It will have a heliport allowing scientists to increase the range of their research. It’s worth $287 million. And what brilliant name will “one of the most sophisticated floating research laboratories working at the poles” bear as she braves the frigid waters of the Arctic and Antarctica? Boaty McBoatface.
The name is the creation of a PR man called James Hand, who submitted the idea when he heard about the competition. Twitter immediately took his suggestion and ran with it. Thousands of people voted for the name, far outnumbering other suggestions. The NERC has not yet commented if it would overrule the Internet’s choice, but is pleased with all the publicity (probably because the organization hasn’t had this much press since … well, never.) As for Hand? “I’m terribly sorry about all this,” he tweeted, later adding that although he has created a monster, much like Frankenstein, he’s rather proud of it. “My apology for #BoatyMcBoatface was in the most British sense. I stand by it being a brilliant name.”