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How Spanish trolls tried to sink a British boat competition

How Spanish trolls tried to sink a British boat competition
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By Rafael Cereceda
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Spanish internet users have tried to force a British research vessel to take on the name of a Spanish admiral responsible for sinking tens of British warships in the eighteenth century.

The Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) #NameOurShip campaign was designed to christen a state-of-the art ship.

On the page collecting the nominations, a Spanish Internet user suggested
Blas de Lezo, a Spanish admiral who fought the British during the1740s, who he said
had “made great contributions to the nation’s undersea research”.

The idea quickly gathered more than 38.000 votes according to The Local before being torpedoed by organisers.

“We will remove or reject any name suggestion that we deem liable to cause offense,” an NERC spokeswoman told The Local, while she couldn’t clarify under what criteria the entry was deemed offensive.

The Spanish offensive against Boaty McBoatface (currently the most popular name on the contest) was organised on Forocoches.com which in theory is a forum for car lovers with 675,873 registered users, but often serves as a troll paradise including comments about pretty much anything from the quality of a restaurant to politics or questions about life in general.

It’s available only by invitation.

The forum users are well connected so they managed to elicit tens of thousands of votes in just a few hours, often accompanied by patriotic comments describing the move as “good revenge for the Spanish Armada’s defeat” or relating the “hack” to the issue of Gibraltar’s sovereignty.

Estos ingleses como son…Prefieren ponerle a un barco BOATY MCBOATFACE, antes que Blas de Lezo. Yo les podria Gibraltar Español #BlasdeLezo

— RadeVir (@_RadeVir) 29 de marzo de 2016

The latest Spanish-influenced suggestion to prove popular is to name the research vessel Rocinante, the horse in Miguel De Cervantes’ novel, Don Quixote.

Seguimos a tope con las votaciones! ROCINANTE! https://t.co/YKkwZz1BIq#RRSRocinante#NameOurShip#FelizJuevespic.twitter.com/jvAwMSzehM

— RRS ROCINANTE (@RRS_ROCINANTE) 31 de marzo de 2016

Then the Spanish media joined in. It was published by almost every single news outlet.

Here are a few examples:

ForoCoches vuelve a la carga: quiere que el buque inglés se llame 'Rocinante' https://t.co/0FQ4Ec6kSApic.twitter.com/GrSpbq5p9T

— El Huffington Post (@ElHuffPost) 31 de marzo de 2016

(With the latest developments)

Reino Unido boicotea la campaña para bautizar a su mayor barco como el español Blas de Lezo. https://t.co/7FirgtD0Zspic.twitter.com/546UClWBGY

— El Español (@elespanolcom) 29 de marzo de 2016

Eliminan la propuesta de 'Blas de Lezo' como nombre a un barco británico por "ofensiva" https://t.co/ZUB0IEDowYpic.twitter.com/Yb7mgg3Kqd

— Europa Press (@europapress) 29 de marzo de 2016

A Reino Unido no le ha gustado la idea de llamar a su nuevo buque 'Blas de Lezo' https://t.co/4i0OOrW2f6pic.twitter.com/pFPxaoUGEv

— El Huffington Post (@ElHuffPost) 29 de marzo de 2016

El Reino Unido vuelve a huir ante Blas de Lezo https://t.co/Wv0Qq59KDmpic.twitter.com/KntbCzKMyl

— La Gaceta (@gaceta_es) 29 de marzo de 2016

Reino Unido elimina a Blas de Lezo de la campaña para nombrar un nuevo buque británico https://t.co/FO4h7BI9EZpic.twitter.com/9MII9gDaBC

— 20minutos.es (@20m) 29 de marzo de 2016

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