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Mister Splashy Pants is the name given to a humpback whale that was tracked via satellite by the environmental organization Greenpeace in 2007. The name was chosen after it won an online poll conducted by Greenpeace that garnered attention from several websites including Reddit and BoingBoing.
In November 2007, the environmental organization Greenpeace began tracking an individual whale using a satellite tag as part of a campaign to raise awareness that the Japanese Fisheries Agency planned to kill 50 humpback whales. To pick a name for the tagged whale, Greenpeace started an online poll that asked users to select their favorite name. Most of the poll options were the names of ancient sea gods, with the exception of “Mister Splashy Pants”.
On November 26th, 2007, Reddit user _black posted a thread informing other Redditors that the contest was taking place and begged them to vote for “Mister Splashy Pants” as the future name of the whale. The thread hit Reddit’s front page after receiving 1,925 up votes and the link to the poll was subsequently posted to other sites like Digg and BoingBoing.
The website’s polling software was based on a one-vote-per-IP system. On November 27th, Greenpeace reported that an IP address from Arizona managed to circumvent their one-vote-per-IP system and clicked the vote button furiously, with at least 4,560 clicks registered in 38 minutes.
Between 6:55pm and 7:33pm local time, the click rate went off the chart and didn’t fall below 120 clicks per minute for a full 38 minutes without pause. Four times the click rate peaked at a staggering 150 clicks per minute, that’s 1 click every 0.4 seconds. The fact that this limit was never breached despite some significant effort suggests the natural limit of human clicking may have been inadvertently discovered.
Having discovered this, Greenpeace removed the poll and cancelled the event. Mister Splashy Pants still managed to win over 78% of the submitted votes, largely due to its coverage on various websites. According to Greenpeace, out of the 150,000 votes submitted in the poll, Mister Splashy Pants received 119,367 votes, and 20,322 votes came from Reddit.
After the votes were tallied, Greenpeace named the humpback whale “Mister Splashy Pants.” In December of 2007, Greenpeace announced that “no humpback whales will be hunted down and killed in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary”, declaring the campaign a success.
TED Talk by Alexis Ohanian
In November 2009, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian gave a talk on TED about impact of social media and how Reddit influenced the outcome of Mister Splashy Pants.
Reddit – Greenpeace are having a vote to name a whale they have ‘adopted’. All the options are the names of ancient gods of the sea. And then there’s ‘Mister Splashy Pants’. Please vote ‘Mister Splashy Pants’.