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Research ship naming contest sinks to the silly


When the U.K.’s Natural Environment Research Council opened an online public vote to come up with a moniker for its new research vessel, it quite possibly didn’t consider quite seriously enough the risks involved in asking the Internet to name something.

Currently, the frontrunner in a poll to name the £200 million ($289.5 million) Royal polar research vessel is: Boaty McBoatface.

So far Boaty McBoatface is leading the poll with more than 28,000 — way ahead of second-place Henry Worsley, which has garnered about 3,000 votes, according to the BBC TV station. Mr. Worsley was an acclaimed explorer who died in January while attempting a solo crossing of the Antarctic.

Boaty McBoatface even has a Twitter handle.

While James Hand, a communications director and former BBC Radio Jersey presenter, has apologized to the NERC for suggesting the name, the research body has said it is “Very much enjoying hearing everyone’s ideas.”

The final decision for naming the vessel, set to become operational in 2019, will be taken by the NERC.

But this would not be the first time that an Internet poll has led to a less-than-serious name choice, the Independent newspaper wrote.

For example, in 2007, environmental group Greenpeace asked the public to vote on a name for a type of endangered whale in order to highlight its plight.

The public enthusiastically helped out, with some 70% of voters opting for the slightly undignified name of Mr. Splashy Pants.

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