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Wings Over Scotland

2012: Moderator Of The Year

Posted on December 26, 2012 by

Disappointingly, since we examined the state of censorship in Scottish political blogs back in April, the situation has only got worse. Even those sites which previously sat atop the table for freedom of debate have gone backwards – Bella Caledonia now snootily demands a WordPress login before it’ll deign to allow you to comment without days in the moderation queue, and Lallands Peat Worrier has tragically fallen foul of the dreaded Curse Of Captcha – while many of the others have tightened their grip even further over the year, allowing only the most anodyne of opinions to be aired.

Our award for Moderator Of The Year, though, goes not to obvious suspects like Better Nation or Labour Hame (RIP). While both still reject wholly inoffensive comments by the bucketload lest they cause their delicate readers to faint at the prospect of civil disagreement (and the former now closes comments on stories as soon as three or four days after publishing them), at least within a few days the “offending” item tends to be deleted altogether so that the would-be commenter knows where they stand.

The proud recipient of the Wingy is instead Labour list MSP Kezia Dugdale, who’s been pondering the brutally offensive retort below for seven months now, still unable to decide whether such a savage tirade is an acceptable level of public discourse:

It was a response to a demand from Dugdale that the Scottish Government and all related bodies stop using the word “Yes” for the next two years, as such partisan language was clearly an underhanded and dastardly subliminal attempt to influence the outcome of the referendum. Oddly, a comment from another prominent online nationalist four hours later WAS approved, so it wasn’t just an oversight.

Clearly the sentence above, then, is a particularly challenging one for Ms Dugdale, as she’s neither accepted it nor decisively concluded that such unrestrained cybernat bile is beyond the pale of civilised debate and must be consigned to the great Recycle Bin in the sky. For being prepared to devote such a long (and continuing) period of serious, heart-searching consideration to our humble post, we have no hesitiation in denoting the representative of the lucky people of Lothian region our Moderator Of The Year.

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    22 to “2012: Moderator Of The Year”

    1. Tom says:

      A quick rule of thumb is that the more’ liberal’ a blog claims to be then the more censorship is involved. 
      I don’t think any of my comments have ever made it into ‘Caron’s Musings’ etc..
      They seem to live in their own reality la la land.

    2. Mchaggis says:

      The Herald, by a mile, for allowing Gordon Robson and Michael McKeown completely free scouf to post regular, immediate, unmoderated, unionist dross while moderating everyone else to the point you might expect around 25% of your contributions to appear something like 12 to 18 hours later…

    3. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      The sort of perverse unreasoning that propels such confusion is known technically as a “ffoulkes”.
      And they’re doing it deliberately

    4. Seasick Dave says:

      Didn’t Kezia used to post as ‘Fifi la Bon’, or somesuch, over on the Scotsman?

      I seem to remember that the vast majority of her posts were unadulterated hogwash and would fall foul of her now highhanded ‘standards’.

      Its a funny old game.

    5. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Didn’t Kezia used to post as ‘Fifi la Bon’, or somesuch, over on the Scotsman?”

      That’s certainly a widely-held opinion, though I have no idea what it’s based on.

    6. patronsaintofcats says:

      It was pretty widely accepted that Fifi and Dugdale were one and the same once upon a time on the Scotsman site.  Interestingly, once La Dugdale got her seat in the parliament, Fifi mysteriously disappeared.   Coincidence?

    7. scottish_skier says:

      Censorship is counter-productive as people can invariably tell if they are only hearing one side of an argument. This is particularly the case when those censoring do not have full control of all available media, thus people have free access to find the other side of the argument themselves.

      The 10 year decline in Scots newspaper sales at twice the rate of the the UK and the apparent post May 11 recent acceleration of this reflects the general picture of what is happening very tellingly.

      Incidentally, polls-wise, based on the last couple of months I see nothing to suggest that the SNP are not sitting on around the same figure they got in May 2011. For Westminster intention, conservatively, they seem to have settled on ~43%, 8 points ahead of Labour. Labour share here has risen slightly over the past year, but it looks to be settling too on ~35%. I suspect this will mark the peak for Labour for Scots Westminster intention before the final decline I have mentioned before. We had the last major gasp in 2010, which, due to being solely a panicked anti-Tory reaction for many, collapsed spectacularly in early 2011 following its failure to stop a return of the Tories. We may well now be seeing the last, whimpering breath before the end. As Henry McLeish said; this year is the peak for the union before it all goes downhill.

      Will be interesting to see how things look come summer 2013, particularly as we will most likely be facing a UK credit rating downgrade and inevitable, gleeful massive Tory welfare budget cuts in response; something the One [English] Nation Party will need to support if they are to win those SE swing seats. At that point, we will likely be witnessing the initial skirmishes of the pre 2015 right wing battle between One Nation authoritarian (increasing BNP flavour) Labour and right wing, slightly less authoritarian (immigrants make a good, cheap neo-liberal workforce) Tory. Dave should win as he’s better looking and at least sounds what an English PM should sound like. Meanwhile, Scotland will be off to pastures new.

      As I’ve said before, it was not the SNP win in 2011 that can be considered the damn breaking. Rather, it is what is happening now in reaction too it which will in all probability lead to a Yes in 2014. All too often it is the increasingly negative reaction of supra-state media/its supporters to the prospect of the possible break away of a nation currently under its control that provides the final push for the latter’s independence. That and events my dear boy, events.

    8. Stuart Black says:

      I agree with Mchaggis, the Herald is a disgrace. Robson is a single issue fanatic (lies, lies!) and McKeown is the Herald’s very own Charles Linskaill, a man who never lets facts interfere with a stream of unadulterated bullshit, yet both seem to have unfettered access. I never get comments published, even when they are commenting on my own letters, I don’t like the savage editing process and would like to point this out, but apparently this is unacceptable (Note: there are two Stuart Blacks, the other one is a Unionist, which could be confusing, if they ever actually posted one of mine, I have changed to Stuart D Black, Milngavie)). Terry Kelly, a man who claims that England’s World Cup victory had a direct result on Labour’s 1966 General election victory, despite taking placed fully three months after the election; and forecast civil unrest and rioting by SNP supporters if, during the olympics, the podium had an english athlete in a position above a Scots athlete. This balloon is a living metaphor for what has gone wrong with the Labour party, yet all of these are given an uncritical platform by the Herald. Sorry about the rant, but it really gets to me, how badly the Scottish people are treated by the ‘mainstream media’.

    9. Seasick Dave says:

      I’m afraid I can’t think of Terry Kelly without picturing Terry F***witt from the Viz.

      I fear that they may be one and the same.

      Apologies to Mr F***witt if this is not the case.

    10. dadsarmy says:

      McHaggis / Stuart.
      I also now get unfettered access to the Herald as well as the Unionists – it’s perseverance. As well as few in the past over monthsm, I made a flurry of postings over about 4 days, and wow, there you go, found myelf appearing straight away.

      I had two postings after that – one removed, one edited by moderator. The first was critical of the Herald but made a point in one paragraph. The second made a point in the first paragraph, and criticised the Herald in the second paragraph. The moderator just removed the second paragraph. The first “put the lie” to the article, but they left that no problem.

      I think the Herald is just very protective of its journalists and its own reputation, and I guess that’s fair enough. It makes moderation easy as they don’t have to think, they just delete or edit.

      I just don’t criticise the writer directly, only what they said or the point of view itself. And of course be a little careful to answer posters rather than rip them personally. Seems to work OK so far. I’ve had a few tussles with Michael McKeown and John MacIntyre. I win of course 🙂

    11. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      If you get unfettered access to the Herald, you’re not trying hard enough!

    12. dadsarmy says:

      Indeed, but it’s a “privilege” I intend to tread carefully with. I’m more into making comments about the article, though I do get engaged in picking replies and pecking at them. My hope is that article writers will become more accurate, and fairer.

      I also use not being a member or even supporter of the SNP. Replies from people of “you SNP this or that” are simply answered: “I’m not in the SNP and can’t speak for them”. I even like being critical of the SNP when I can – there’s a lot of potential YES voters who are put off by the SNP. My hope is that they can identify more with someone who supports Independence but isn’t SNP.

    13. AndrewFraeGovan says:

      Aye, the more non-SNP folk there are arguing for independence, the better. The SNP (and I am a member) should, as much as is possible, take a back seat and get on with running the country, and let YesScotland run the independence campaign. I’m sure that’s the intention anyway.

    14. Fairliered says:

      Kezia Dugdale is one of the politicians, along with Richard Baker, George Foulkes, Cllr Terry Kelly, Ian Davidson and others, whose hatred of the SNP overwhelms their sense of reason. Everything associated with the SNP is bad and must be opposed,  even if they would be in favour if proposed by anyone else. Free prescriptions, over 60s bus passes and free university tuition for all come to mind.

    15. Triskelion says:

      What’s wrong with Bella Caledonia demanding WordPress? I mean yeah, less people will post, but that’ll divert them from posting stupid. Plus, has there been any censorship there’

    16. dadsarmy says:

      Nicola Sturgeon’s speech showed the way, where she said after a YES vote all parties would be involved. This is the strong approach as, no matter what the political parties themselves say right now, their voters, supporters and even members won’t feel that it’s purely an SNP thing.

      From Sturgeon’s speech it’s clear the SNP are aware of the problem – the more of this totally inclusive stuff they can do, the better. Vote NO – but it’s still your independent Scotland, and your voice is important. That could encourage NO voters to really think about what it is they’re thinking of voting NO to …

    17. Chris Jones says:


    18. BigCheese says:

      Dadsarmy, I too have had some recent editorial tussles but I have found the deputy editor to be very fair. When I asked for an answer to my point about the Herald focusing every week on the midweek scare story he did answer and give a reasonable reply. not that I agreed with his answer but it was better than the fob off the BBC offered.

      I am quite sad about the Herald. It has been part of my life for 30 years, and my parents for 20 years before that. I subscribe now simply to be able to try and counteract the bias and hopefully help others see they should not be taking their articles at face value. I am now at the point where I am finding it harder justifying using them for advertising due to falling circulation but also I do not want to ‘enable’ their anti position in any way.

    19. JLT says:

      Jeez …as far as I am concerned ….it’s them all – The Scotsman, The Herald, the Record, the BBC. They are all as bad as each other. 

    20. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “What’s wrong with Bella Caledonia demanding WordPress? I mean yeah, less people will post”

      Kinda answered your own question there, Trisk.

      The notion that reducing the number of posters by making it tedious and awkward will increase quality is backwards. The only people who’ll bother jumping through all the hoops are the fanatics absolutely desperate to get their point across. Normal, moderate people who might actually broaden the debate will just say “Sod this, I’ve got better things to do with my life than sit here constantly refreshing Captchas until I get one I can fucking read.”

    21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      I have, however, tweaked the post with regard to Bella, as if you remove any info from your profile which might be linked to a WP account it theoretically lets you post a comment normally. I say “theoretically”, because I submitted a test one over 24 hours ago and it’s currently still awaiting moderation.

    22. Commenter says:

      Bella: I have never used wordpress, twitter or facebook to comment on BellaCaledonia. I only use the normal signing in procedure with my proper name. I have never been moderated and my posts appear immediately.
      Herald: I had similar problems to those quoted above where some comments were published and some not and all pre-moderated. But I realised that the comments being refused were either critical of the Herald staff and policy or personally critical of other commenters. And it won’t pubish comments like that. But even after 6 months I’m still being pre-moderated and posts don’t appear immediately! So I seldom post there.

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