Wings Over Scotland is a Scottish political website, which focuses particularly on the media – whether mainstream print and broadcast organisations or the online and social-network community – as well as offering its own commentary and analysis.
The site is edited and maintained by Rev. Stuart Campbell, a Liberal Democrat voter at every election for the last 22 years but now non-aligned. It advocates Scottish independence, but is not affiliated or connected in any way to the SNP, and neither gives to or receives money from the party, or indeed any other party. We have an inquiring mind, and actively welcome intelligent contributions from all sides of the political debate. Got something worthwhile to say about Scotland’s future? Try us.
The site has an open comments policy – if you’re a new user your first comment needs to be manually approved as an anti-spam measure, but after that anything you say will be published automatically and unmoderated, and without making users negotiate irritating Captchas or social-media registrations/logins.
(However, please note that the Akismet spam filter built in to all WordPress sites will sometimes place comments which contain links – and particularly multiple links – into the moderation queue, even from approved users. Such comments won’t appear until we manually accept them, which can take anything from a few seconds to several hours if we’re out at the shops or something. This is outwith our control, unless we want the literally hundreds of spambot messages a day that Akismet intercepts. If you want to post several links, it’s best to do it in several comments with one link in each.)
We reserve the right to edit/remove comments at any time, for legal reasons or in the event of sustained personal abuse, trolling that’s aimed purely and intentionally at disrupting rather than promoting debate, or spam which somehow manages to evade Akismet. But you’ll have to try very hard indeed, and ignore repeated warnings, to have any sort of censorship for content applied here.
ETIQUETTE AND FORMATTING
There are, however, some rules. As the site’s readership has grown, so has the number of comments. Four-figure numbers in a single day aren’t unprecedented, and that brings with it certain responsibilities for commenters, because we can’t spend all day monitoring them and still produce the site. So please keep a few things in mind.
1. Write as if an undecided voter is reading.
Fewer than 1% of the site’s readers post comments. That means the comments give you an inaccurate picture of the overall readership, and things that might go down well within a small group of dedicated activists don’t sound so good to people who’ve come to the site looking for information to help make up their minds.
People without whom we won’t win.
So try to avoid puerile name-calling like “Bitter Together”, “Johann Lamentable” or hilarious mis-spellings of/puns on Anas Sarwar’s name. Do you think they’re more likely to win someone over, or to put them off? Would they work on you?
(We’d also happily live for another 300 years without ever again seeing anyone using the phrase “parcel of rogues” as if they were the first person who ever thought of it, or posting entire poems or song lyrics. That’s what YouTube’s for.)
2. Play the ball, not the man (or woman).
And by all means disagree, by all means disagree forcefully – but argue with people’s views, don’t insult them personally. And that includes calling them “trolls” or implying they’re undercover Unionists. We’ll decide if someone’s trolling or not. But in the meantime, if you think they are, ignore them.
If you know what a “troll” is, then you’ll also know that getting you angry and talking about them, derailing the conversation off the subject, is exactly what they want.
Email us about suspected trolls if you want. But don’t engage them in debate if you doubt their motives, and DEFINITELY don’t engage in on-thread discussions about whether they’re a troll or not.
3. Show other commenters some courtesy.
It’d be nice if all that ever mattered was the content of what you wrote. But it isn’t. Whether we like it or not, the way things look also has a huge effect on whether people read them and pay any attention.
If you post a comment that’s 3,000 words long but doesn’t have a single line break or punctuation mark, not one living soul will read it. But more importantly, the chances are that they won’t read anything that comes after it either, and that’s an arrogant and selfish thing to do to other people’s comments. We have some amazing commenters here, and they deserve not to have the information they impart undermined.
So please, please, please put some paragraphs breaks into your posts. One after every two or three sentences is a good ballpark figure. And as you’re using the internet, not a typewriter, there’s NEVER, EVER any reason for hitting Return once. It’s either none or two, depending whether you’re starting a new paragraph or not.
Terrible use of paragraph breaks (which includes using none, or far too many, or sticking loads of extra ones at the beginning or end of your post for no appreciable reason) will put your comment at severe risk of deletion.
4. Microsoft are evil.
Please don’t paste comments in from Microsoft Word. It creates utter havoc, because Microsoft are made of liquid incompetence and general horror. (Ref: Windows 8.)
5. There’s a time and place for everything.
Comment threads go off-topic. That’s okay. But posting about a completely different subject in the first few comments on an article is just mind-bogglingly rude.
If you have something totally unrelated that you really really have to say, either post it in an older thread or just bite your tongue for the four or five minutes it’ll take for there to be half-a-dozen on-topic comments. Break this rule and you’ll either get timestamp-shifted to two hours into the future or deleted, depending how cranky a mood we’re in.
6. Scotland has a world-renowned education system.
So there’s really no excuse for putting spaces before full stops and question marks at the end of sentences, or for starting your paragraphs with an indentation. Or for doing this: “…………………………..“ or this: “ . . . . . . “ when you mean this: “…“.
Or for not at least knowing that sentences start with a capital letter.
Your comment won’t be deleted for breaking those sorts of rules, but please believe us when we say that if you do we’ll be positively itching to find other reasons.
7. Don’t mess up the page for everyone else.
If you post YouTube links with the http:// part at the start, they’ll embed on the page rather than being posted as links. That can lead to this sort of thing. So don’t include the http:// bit or you’ll find your video in the spam bin.
8. Above all, NO CITE TAGS.
Now, you probably don’t know what CITE tags are. They’re not a thing you can directly add on purpose. But they make our life absolute hell, so here’s how to avoid them.
To quote someone’s comment in a reply to them, you’d highlight their text like this:
That’s all dandy. Nothing wrong with that. And if you’re the best sort of person, when you paste that quote into your comment, you’ll also put it in quote marks and italicise it so that people can easily tell it’s a quote, like this:
However, if you do this:
…ie copy the text in such a way that it includes the nametag at the top and the timestamp at the bottom, you’ll trigger a CITE tag and we’ll have to murder you.
CITE tags, in fact, are such a massive pain in the arse from an admin perspective that as of now, any comments featuring them will be instantly deleted – regardless of their content – rather than painstakingly manually cleaned up. No exceptions, no second chances. Gone. So don’t do that, is our advice.
Please note that spelling errors and typos are excluded from our grammar-Nazi purge. Being dyslexic isn’t a crime. But for CITE tags and the absence (or excess) of line breaks, there will be no mercy. Those are the rules. That is all.