It may have been the biggest controversy of 2016 but the whole Boaty McBoatface thing was actually good for science, according to a new report.
The Natural Environment Research Council (Nerc) were given an embarrassing but memorable lesson in how not to use social media when they asked members of the public to name a new polar research ship.
Boaty McBoatface was born and topped the poll with a ridiculous amount of votes but, to mass uproar and disappointment, the name was overruled in favour of the more dignified RRS Sir David Attenborough, which actually came fifth in the poll.
— Boaty McBoatface (@BoatyMcBoatface) May 7, 2016
But the Boaty brigade was warmly applauded by MPs on the Science and Technology Select Committee, and not just because they could see the funny side.
In their new report on “science communication and engagement”, they wrote: “Despite the strong interest in science in many quarters, there is a collective need to do more to take science to those who are not currently engaged.
“It was encouraging to see that the competition to name the new polar research ship received 124,000 votes for ‘Boaty McBoatface’.”
The initiative was hailed as “a case study of how to engage with a wide audience”.
The legacy of Boaty really does live on.