Recent examples show that running a naming competition on social media is fraught with danger. From Boaty McBoatface to Trainy McTrainface, the internet knows what is required when an organisation foolhardily asks the general public to title something.

Just this week employees in Australia said they would refuse to work on a vessel that had been named Ferry McFerryface and called the exercise 'stupid'. Clearly not everyone finds the trend quite as funny as the rest of us.

However, a council in the north of England has brilliantly illustrated how to run a competition that doesn't leave egg on face of the organisers. Earlier this week Doncaster council posted a message announcing they wanted the public to name two new gritting vehicles that would be taking to the town's roads this winter:

"We would like your name suggestions for two of our new gritting vehicles, please. Keep em clean and be original - we'd prefer not to spend the next few days trawling through responses of Gritty McGritface and Gary Gritter."

Gary Gritter, is of course, a reference to the disgraced former music star Gary Glitter. By preempting the public's cheeky responses they've avoided some awkward backtracking later down the line.

The council has already rounded up some of the best submissions and put it to a vote using the hashtag #DoncasterGrittingWorldCup. They said:

"Thank you to everyone who made suggestions for our gritter naming competition. Some suggestions were amazing, some were...interesting, to say the least. We're pleased to say the comedy panel have made their choices, and we can now reveal the finalists."

They've pointed out they already have some puntastic names already in place for its fleet of gritters. They include: Brad Grit, Gritney Spears, The Subzero Hero and Usain Salt.

British comedian Rufus Hound chimed in with some of his suggestions, albeit slightly too late.

At time of writing the competition is down to the following finalists. "Gritsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow little ice machiney" versus "Spready Mercury" while the face off for the second name is "Basil Salty" against "David Plowie."

With only a few thousand votes between them, the competition is on a knife edge!

Boaty McBoatface
Natural Environment Research Council