Why the name of a cat can be the most important thing in the world

You may have read recently about the problem with Socks.

The basic story goes like this: The BBC ran an online poll to choose the name of the new Blue Peter cat. The name Socks was winning until the end, when there was a sudden burst of support for Cookie.

A decision was made to name the cat Socks rather than Cookie. According to the Guardian this may have been due to the fact that the sudden surge of late support might have been due to people voting multiple times.

The person ultimately responsible for this decision has been fired.

So why’s this important? It’s just the name of a pet, right? And someone’s lost his job over this? Shouldn’t the BBC be reporting on casualties in Iraq or something, you know, important, instead?

Here’s why it was indefensible: They Lied.

The problem is not that the cat was named one thing rather than another. They own the cat; they can name it whatever the hell they like.

But saying to the public – saying to children that we will let you choose the name of the cat, and then taking that choice away is inexcusable. This is not a production necessity, this is not filming the Easter edition of Songs of Praise in November, this is making a promise and then deliberately breaking it.

The claim that the first name was discarded because it could have been faked doesn’t stand up – An online poll is fakeable by anyone with a computer connected to the Internet and a small knowledge of programming. And we know this. We’ve known this since the first internet poll went up. They’re just not secure. If anyone involved with making the decision to use a poll to name the cat didn’t know this then they bloody well should have.

No online poll can be considered safe, and you should never make an important decision using an online poll.

The problem with agreeing to abide by a public vote is that the public might come up with a choice you don’t like. And if you don’t like it, you have to suck it down and deal with the consequences of your actions.

You asked in the first place. Live with it.

7 responses to “Why the name of a cat can be the most important thing in the world”

  1. Surely not THE most important thing in the world??

    I didnt know till yesterday that “cookie” was something rude, and the reason they did it was the poll was sabotaged by practical jokers (apparently “Pussy” was runner up)

    But what is “cookie?”

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