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RRS Boaty McBoatface is a proposed name for the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)'s state-of-the-art polar research vessel currently under construction for the British Antarctic Survey, which is scheduled to begin in 2019. Upon the submission of the entry by British radio presenter James Hand to NERC's "Name Our Ship" online contest in March 2016, the irreverent proposal quickly drew a massive backing on the social media and ultimately emerged as the people's choice for the name of the vessel, as well as inspiring a variety of similar-sounding names.
On March 17th, 2016, the British scientific research agency NERC launched an online crowdsourced contest to name its newly commissioned 129-meter long polar research vessel--the largest and most advanced British royal research vessel to date. Shortly after the launch of the Internet poll, the website was promptly raided by pranksters suggesting a variety of goofy names, most notably RRS Boaty McBoatface as suggested by former BBC presenter James Hand.
Prior to the sensational rise of "Boaty McBoatface" and the subsequent trend that ensued, there have been several precedents of comparable nature, including "Mister Splashy Pants" for the unnamed whale tracked by Greenpeace in 2007 (shown below, left) and "Hooty McOwlface" for an owl sponsored through the "Adopt-A-Bird" program in 2012 (shown below, right).
RRS David Attenborough
On May 6th, 2016, the NERC announced that the science vessel would be dubbed the RSS David Attenborough, after the renowned broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough. This was the 5th most popular choice according to the results of the poll, with less than 9% of the votes that "Boaty McBoatface" received. As a concession, it was also announced that the small remote-controlled submersible aboard the RRS David Attenborough would be named "Boaty".
The closing of the poll and selection of the vessel's name was met with mixed reactions online. A Change.org petition was also started for Sir David Attenborough to change his legal name to "Boaty McBoatface" in honour of the research ship being named after him. As of May 8th, 2016, the petition has over 2,300 signatures, and requires less than 200 more to be sent to the BBC. James Hand, who originally suggested the idea of "Boaty McBoatface" took to Twitter to express his approval of the name.
My view on #BoatyMcBoatface living on! Won't be saying anything else, so please contact
NERCscience</a> for more. <a href="https://t.co/NtHJyfeMRc">pic.twitter.com/NtHJyfeMRc</a></p>— James Hand (JamesHand) May 6, 2016
On March 22nd, 2016, a few days after the NERC's ship-naming contest went viral, The Daily Telegraph journalist Harry Wallop tweeted a photograph of an LED-display sign reading "Trainy McTrainface" on the side of a British Rail South West train, which garnered more than 1,235 likes and 1,449 retweets.
That same day, the United States Air Force (USAF) launched an online contest to field suggestions for the proposed name of the B-21 bomber aircraft from the members of the USAF, which led to a number of irreverent suggestions like "Bomby McBombface" and "Stealthy McHidden."
On March 28th, The board of Austin Independent School District (AISD) in Texas passed a motion to rename one of its schools, Robert E. Lee Elementary School, once named in homage to the general of the Confederate States of America and now questioned in the aftermath of the Charleston church shooting and the subsequent debate on the Confederate flag. During the nomination process, which began on March 29th and ended on April 15th, a number of goofy-sounding suggestions likely influenced by Boaty McBoatface were submitted, the highlights of which were eventually reported on by Fox 7 (shown below), including Schoolie McSchoolface.
On April 15th, Australian horse trainer Bjorn Baker of Sydney's Warwick Farm racecourse named his newly acquired two-year-old gelding "Horsey McHorseface" as a humorous nod to Boaty McBoatface.
Boaty McBoatface Explores Antarctic
On March 13th, 2017, it was announced that the drone accompanying the RRS David Attenborough, named Boaty McBoatface in honor of the competition, would be embarking on its first mission sometime in the following two years. McBoatface's goal will be to explore the Antarctic at depths never before reached by science. Because of the depth and climate, professor Russell Wynn of National Oceanography Center warned that McBoatface will face danger and may not survive its missions.
On November 13th, 2017, the New South Wales Public Transport Facebook page announced that a new ferry in Sydney, Australia would be named Ferry McFerryface after winning a voting contest with over 15,000 suggestions (shown below).
That day, a post about the contest was submitted to /r/nottheonion, where it received more than 59,300 votes (81% upvoted) and 1,900 comments within 24 hours. Meanwhile, the Australian radio station 2GB reported that the Maritime Union of Australia staff were "furious" about the new name. Meanwhile, the Sydney Live Twitter feed reported that the union would "refuse to man the Ferry McFerryface vessel" until the name was revised (shown below).
Climate Change Discovery
On June 17th, 2019, The Telegraph reported that Boaty McBoatface had completed research in the Antarctic, discovering that "increasingly strong winds in the Antarctic are causing cold water at the bottom of the ocean to mix with warmer water from the middle levels. That, in turn, is causing overall ocean temperatures to rise, which contributes to rising sea levels." The AV Club lamented "The sad fact is, though, that Twitter and the majority of publications--this one included--would not be talking about this discovery had it not been made by an unmanned submarine with a very dumb and bad name." That day, a Twitter Events page was created about the news story. User @mikalapaula tweeted "I’d expect nothing less from this genuine international hero," gaining over 60 retweets and 350 likes (shown below, left). User @steveschale wrote "Some of us knew from the beginning that Boaty McBoatface was destined for greatness," gaining over 540 retweets and 1,800 likes (shown below, right).
 Twitter – @Boatymcboatface's Account
 The Guardian – Boaty McBoatface wins poll to name polar research vessel
 The Atlantic – Boaty McBoatface and the False Promise of Democracy
 Reddit – Is "Boaty McBoatFace" funny because it's so stupid, or is there a story behind it?
 New York Times – Boaty McBoatface: What You Get When You Let the Internet Decide
 KXAN – AISD’s Robert E. Lee Elementary will be renamed
 A.V. Club – A decade before Boaty McBoatface, the internet came together to name a whale
 The Independent – Boaty McBoatface debacle shows the perils of crowdsourcing opinion: From Hooty McOwlface to Mr Splashy Pants
 News.com.au – Hilarious legacy of Boaty McBoatface
 CNN – Racehorse named Horsey McHorseFace because 'hey, why not?'
 Unilad – Boaty McBoatface Is Inspiring A Series Of Copycat Name Changes
 The Chive – Air Force needs help naming new bomber, Twitter hilariously delivers
 Twitter – Harry Wallop's Tweet
 Twitter – U.S. Air Force's Tweet
 U.S. Air Force – Name the B-21
 Reddit – adopt a bird, and you get to choose its name
 Twitter – James Hand's Tweet
 Change.org – Sir David Attenborough to change his name to Boaty McBoatface
 BBC News – Boaty McBoatface decision sparks mock outrage
 BBC News – 'Boaty McBoatface' polar ship named after Attenborough
 Mother Nature Network – What's next for Boaty McBoatface?
 Facebook – NSW Public Transport
 Reddit – Ferry McFerryface to be name of new Sydney ferry after public vote
 Twitter – @SydneyLive2GB
 2gb – Maritime staff furious over Ferry McFerryface
 The Telegraph – Boaty McBoatface makes major climate change discovery on maiden outing
 Twitter Events – Boaty McBoatfaces maiden voyage sheds new light
 AV Club – Groundbreaking climate change discovery made by, sigh, Boaty McBoatface
Apr 25, 2016 at 10:34PM EDT
Apr 25, 2016 at 11:57PM EDT in reply to
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