The world's most-read Scottish politics website

Wings Over Scotland

Courage and convictions: the state of the Scottish online media and blogosphere

Posted on April 18, 2012 by

Nobody starts a blog because they want to. It’s time-consuming, it costs money, and it opens you up to all manner of hideous abuse. In my 20-year career as a professional journalist I’ve had my home address and home phone number published countless times, usually accompanied by implied or explicit exhortations for people to come round and kick my head in. I’ve been the subject of more than one hate campaign so prolonged, vitriolic and alarming that serious police intervention was required. I lost count of the death threats (some of them made to my face) years ago. And the sheer volume of venomous, hysterical name-calling and general rage that’s been directed my way would fill every page of the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica and more.

(I should note, in the interests of fairness, that if it comes to a flame war I’m no fainting violet myself, if you’ll forgive the mixed metaphor. In the circumstances, sometimes you’ve just got to let off a little steam or you’d go completely mad. I have very little time for sites that get all prissy about a good honest ding-dong.)

This blog carries no advertising. I’m freelance, and every hour I spend researching, checking, writing and maintaining it is an hour when I’m not earning money to pay for the (extortionate) rent, the (crippling) utility bills and the (debilitating) weakness for imported salt’n’vinegar flavour KP Mini Chips. Like the vast majority of others, I mostly blog – to coin a phrase – not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, but out of frustration at an unheard, unrepresented voice.

Wings Over Scotland arose for just that reason. I’d been searching for a while for a Scottish political blog that wasn’t abysmally written, appallingly designed, intellectually embarrassing or all three, and in 2011 I briefly thought I’d discovered it in an earlier version of Better Nation. That illusion lasted for the few hours it took to be summarily banned, without warning or explanation (and by person or persons still unidentified), from commenting on my own article. It was at this point I reluctantly acknowledged that I couldn’t count on being able to express my uncensored views on Scottish politics anywhere unless I took matters into my own hands.

The blog’s been running for five months now, and has seen a pleasingly rapid growth in readership – monthly page views are now in six figures, and monthly unique users well into five figures. (We note, curiously, that almost no other blogs reveal their traffic levels even to that degree.) In that time we’ve also become much more intimately acquainted with the rest of the Scottish online media, both professional and blogosphere, and a few interesting things have become apparent. And since today’s a bit of a slow news day, it seems as good a time as any to examine some of them.

The most telling aspect of any online entity is how it interacts with its users. This characteristic takes many forms, including practical issues like how easy the site is to navigate and read, but we’re going to focus on a couple of more empirical facets, namely comment policy and archive accessibility.

If a site obsessively controls and censors reader comments, you can invariably take it as a sign of weakness. Comments are, at the end of the day, just some words on the internet. On the same liberal principle that the best way to handle the BNP is to put Nick Griffin on Question Time and let him damn himself freely and openly in front of everyone (rather than gifting him the role of the innocent and wronged martyr through censorship), the most effective way to expose the frailties of an opponent’s arguments or the unpleasantness of their personality is to shine daylight on them.

There are fundamentally only two acceptable positions to take with regard to reader comments – either you allow everything (except for spam-filtering, DoS flooding and where you have a legal obligation, ie libel and incitement to violence), or nothing. There’s a legitimate case to make for not allowing comments at all, but every time you selectively censor one you simply don’t like you’re admitting that you’re incapable of addressing it honestly. (Even if that address takes the form of ignoring it.)

The second telltale indication that a site lacks confidence in its own beliefs is if it won’t let you search through its archives. The only conclusion it’s possible to draw if someone doesn’t want you to see what they’ve said in the past is that they’re scared they might have contradicted or betrayed themselves in some way, and they don’t want to be embarrassed by having the fact highlighted.

(Every major blogging platform has a powerful search function built in, which has to be actively disabled if you don’t want it to appear, and non-standard sites can easily avail themselves of a Google Custom Search or Freefind search box. There are no technical excuses – if your site can’t be searched, you’ve got something to hide. And you’re not even doing a very good job of it, since anyone who really wants to examine the skeletons in your cupboards won’t take long to perform their own Google site search or trawl the Wayback Machine.)

So we’ve taken a look at the most prominent (measured both by apparent popularity and post frequency – anything with no posts in the last two weeks wasn’t included) Scottish online political media, both blogs and mainstream, and compiled a quick at-a-glance guide, ranked roughly in descending order of openness. For a tie-breaker in rankings we used how much faffing around it takes to get a comment submitted (so annoying, unreadable Captchas count against you) and the likelihood of the blog/article author replying below the line.

There are various footnotes and disclaimers, and naturally the table represents our own analysis. Your interpretations may of course vary, but as we’ve already noted we’ve based the assessments as far as possible on empirical, measurable facts. You either have a Search function or you don’t, and you either moderate comments before you publish them, afterwards, or not at all.

Just for fun, we’ve also highlighted whether a site is broadly nationalist in outlook (blue) or broadly Unionist (red). This again, clearly, is only our own personal judgement of their affiliation, and does NOT equate nationalism with support for the SNP. But it’ll be interesting to see if there’s a noticeable trend, no? Let’s do this.

no moderation of comments [1], full and prominent archive search
no moderation of comments, full archive search
no moderation, full search
no moderation, full archive search (albeit buried at the bottom of the page)
no moderation, full search
no pre-moderation, search available
no pre-moderation, search available
no pre-moderation, search available
no pre-moderation, search available but at bottom of long page
no moderation of comments but Disqus account required [2]; full archive search
Disqus required, no pre-moderation, search available
SPECTATOR (Alex Massie)
no pre-moderation, some restrictions, full search
social-media account required, no moderation, search available
social-media account required, no moderation, search available
social-media account required, no pre-moderation, search available
social-media account required, no pre-moderation, search available
no pre-moderation, arbitrary [3] and quite frequent post-moderation. Comments not allowed on articles by certain contributors, eg Severin Carrell. Full search
no pre-moderation, light post-moderation, Disqus account required. Comments not allowed on articles by certain contributors. Google custom search.
all comments pre-moderated, almost all permitted, search available
all comments pre-moderated, most permitted, search available
SPECTATOR (Fraser Nelson)
all comments pre-moderated [4], some restrictions, full search
all comments pre-moderated (not that brave, then, like the failure to disclose anywhere on the blog that “Braveheart” is in fact Labour councillor Alex Gallagher from Largs), search available
all comments pre-moderated, search available
social-media account required, no pre-moderation, light post-moderation, URLs banned, formatting renders long comments unreadable, comments not allowed on articles by certain contributors, full search
social-media account required, comments pre-moderated, search available
all comments pre-moderated, and so far as we can establish not a single one has ever been approved. Search available
no pre-moderation normally, but disagreement with host can quickly result in both threats, and actual implementation, of it. No search.
severe and arbitrary pre- and post-moderation of comments, no search
[EDIT 18-4-12: search added as a result of this post, moved up one place]
custom registration required, all comments pre-moderated, search available
Disqus account required, extremely tight pre-moderation, URLs banned, most comments rejected or edited, paywall, but full search
registration required, strict pre-moderation [6], no search
Social-media account required, no pre-moderation but the most mind-bogglingly awful and unusable comments system we’ve ever seen, with comments buried in multi-page floods of pointless tweet notifications. Belief-defyingly terrible. Site itself is similarly agonising to navigate, and there’s no search
extremely long pre-moderation [7], comments often rejected, no search
no comments allowed, search available.

So there you have it. The table above in essence represents approximately the level of confidence Scotland’s professional media and bloggers have in their own ideologies, and accordingly how much their readers ought to have in them – it’s basically the Online Credibility Index (Scotland), if you will. If we gave out awards and trophies, we’d naturally call them the OCIS (the noo), and it’s pretty obvious which side of the debate would currently be walking away with most of the gongs.

If we’ve missed any sites that ought to be in the list, please let us know and we’ll add them in the appropriate place. And mind how you go.


[1]Β  By this, in all cases, we mean no content-based moderation, beyond that which is required as noted in the article. Clearly if a Viagra advert somehow evades the automatic spam filter it’ll be deleted, as would anything libellous or otherwise unlawful. The only comments we’ve ever deleted for any other reason on WingsLand were a barrage of gibberish posts in the “Why Scotland doesn’t need Rangers” thread from a single user using dozens of different usernames and email addresses, and which therefore qualified as a form of DoS flooding.

Clearly, with regard to sites other than our own, the statement is based on what we’ve observed personally. Lallands Peat Worrier or Bella Caledonia may have post-deleted comments in the past, but if they have we’ve never seen it happen. Where we haven’t commented on a site’s level of moderation, it’s usually because we simply don’t know.

[2] Some sites now require third-party logins through sites like Disqus and Facebook. This is arguably a well-intentioned step towards comment security and accountability, but is easily circumvented and just presents an additional barrier to participation, as well as excluding people who may not want to open, say, a Facebook account on the grounds of legitimate privacy concerns.

[3] The Guardian publishes all comments automatically, but its moderators are extremely inconsistent in whether a comment will be removed if complained about, and in whether a repeat-offending commenter will be banned or not. Many users are allowed to keep posting despite having dozens of offensive comments removed, others can be instantly banned without warning or explanation despite having no comments deleted.

[4] Yes, we found it a bit odd for the same site to have different moderation policies for different authors too.

[5] We’re aware that Better Nation is still quite widely regarded as a nationalist blog. However, that’s largely a hangover from its earlier incarnation when its staff featured more SNP supporters. Its current editors comprise two Labour activists, a floating voter who recently rejoined the SNP, and a pro-independence Green who regularly attacks the SNP and recently described the party as the “enemy”.

The site regularly deletes comments which do not breach its (extremely hard-to-find) comment policy, and also admits to weighting moderation against nationalists on the grounds that they frighten off non-nationalist contributors. So on balance we’re putting it on the Unionist side, though it’s only fractionally over the dividing line.

[6] Newsnet Scotland has some oddly prudish moderation rules. The word “Weegie”, for example, is banned despite the site’s professed fondness for the Scots language.

[7] Comment approval on LabourHame can frequently take two or more days, massively hampering debate, and it’s a lottery as to whether comments critical of Labour will be published or not.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

68 to “Courage and convictions: the state of the Scottish online media and blogosphere”

  1. RevStu says:

    "I asked about searching NNS once. I was told you could use Google with a site specifier like so revstu"

    Yeah, that's Google Site Search, which I linked to in the piece. It's not massively well-known, and it's no reason not to have an on-site search.

  2. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Of course the thing you have to remember RevStu, is that people think you are a [Edited by Moderator] and that the site is [Edited by Moderator].
    Only joking…

  3. James says:

    I've just added a search to Better Nation just for you. Actually, I thought we had one already. But we still plan to delete the endless flood of sexist, racist, disablist, homophobic, anti-English, anti-Scottish or otherwise ad hominem comments. Plus those which are off topic or which reduce the prospects for what we regard good debate. If we lose a point for that, that's quite OK by me.

  4. James says:

    Also, I'm baffled to see "Your comment is awaiting moderation" there. No courage in your own convictions?

  5. RevStu says:

    As I’ve noted several times previously, a user’s first comment is moderated purely as an anti-spam measure. Once that’s approved, all subsequent comments from the same user are posted automatically. Do also feel free to tell me which of the criteria you cited applied to my Bill Walker post.

  6. James says:

    Finally, I regularly attack all the parties I disagree with, and I only used the phrase "never interrupt your enemy while he's making a mistake" to refer to the bizarre idea that I should help the SNP proof-read their leaflets in a ward I hope will go Green in May. They're not "my enemy" or "the enemy" generically. Given you're writing specifically about me I'd ask you to correct that.

  7. Randomscot says:

    I asked about searching NNS once
    I was told you could use Google with a site specifier like so revstu
    They have a moderation policy that is a bit strange, for example several posts I have had challenging this SDA mob have been modded off, despite my post recalling a post on their site by Weegiewarbler
    I agree with how you assess BetterNation.
    Although I get modded off the Grauniad (Observer really) from time to time, it's usually when I call Kevin McKenna nasty names, mostly they let people post all sorts of things, it seems to be contributors they are protective off

  8. RandomScot says:

    James, since you are here
    I remember Aidan castigating the SNP council tax freeze. You often criticise it also

    When is he, or you going to blog on Labour aiding the Tories in cutting CT in Stirling?

  9. RevStu says:

    "Given you're writing specifically about me I'd ask you to correct that."

    Sure, but I asked you first…

  10. RevStu says:

    Oh, and James – in respect of this:

    "If a comment of yours is deleted and you want to post it on your own blog, do let us know and we’ll be happy to send it on."

    …please do send over all my deleted comments, account name "R.G. Bargie". Would be nice to let people judge for themselves how disgustingly offensive they were. You can use the WoSland contact form for an email address:

  11. TYRAN says:

    NNS did have a search bar on the current look. It used to sit above where the A-Z myths is now. But the search results were poor. I think it might be a limitation in the system they are using / cost. No one likely made the site. Just a template. 
    Some Express comments appear in their weekend letters page. I forget one of the nicknames but they appeared in the paper. Chaps won't likely know they made it to print.

  12. Doug Daniel says:

    Interesting analysis. I've not bothered putting a search facility on Alba Matters, quite simply because I've set it up to mirror how I use other sites. So no search box, but I have the links to all my previous posts. Also, I think my moderation policy is turned on to allow comments for recent articles, and to mod them for older ones. That's simply so I don't have someone retroactively spammng me with stupid comments on an ancient article, and also because I'm a bit lazy. I don't get enough comments to be overly worried about comments anyway – if that changed, I'd work out what the best mod policy is.
    I also (I think) require people to sign in when posting, with a blogger account or whatever else it is that Blogger allows you to use. This is simply because I was getting spam comments, so decided it was the most straight-forward way of preventing it. I also feel that since I blog and comment under my real name, anyone choosing to do so on my blog can do the same. Unionists have a habit of posting crap anonymously, but are strangely feart of doing so if they need to be accountable.
    I've got a feeling Blogger is not as good as some other blogging sites. WordPress strikes me as beng far more sophisticated, although they go through patches of royally duffing things up (for instance, I'm finding the comments box on most WordPress blogs at the moment are not expanding with my typing as they used to, and if you leave the page and come back, the box minimizes back down to about two or three lines high).
    I have to say, of all the sites, the most annoying to post on is NNS, because their login system is awful, and the session persistance is not very good.
    The Herald's moderation policy is horrendous. I had a very innocuous comment edited by them (with no acknowledgement of this fact), and I posted another comment saying "if you're going to edit my post, I'd rather you just removed it completely, rather than doctoring my comment to say something I didn't", which they promptly did. Personally, I think changing people's comments without so much as an "edited by moderator" note is the most heinous crime of blogging, and will guarantee I don't bother commenting again.
    I think it's a bit harsh to call BetterNation unionist though – Jeff moved from independence-sceptic to definite "yes" voter long before he rejoined the SNP, James is pro-indy (even if he does have caveats sometimes), and I'm not sure quite how staunchly unionist Kirsty is. I'd call them neutral…

  13. RevStu says:

    Like I say in the footnote, it's a very borderline judgement. I think the comment policy is what just tips it.

  14. Peter A Bell says:

    There's an interesting idea here that might be worth developing. An index of online blogs rated according to a set of criteria based on openness, useability etc. Please note that I am not volunteering.
    It may be only anecdotal evidence, but my own experience is that the divide between blogs which rate highly and those that fail would correlate to pro-independence and anti-independence respectively.

  15. peter says:

    i regularly read a no., of the blogs quoted at the end of your article. however, i find that, WoS, is now my first port of call.
    i don't pretend to be academically minded or possess the literal skills of yourself or fellow posters. but, i do recognised an honest account of topical issues when i read them, and appreciate how well written it is.
    and for that, sir, i will continue to read your blog and, recommend it to others.

  16. Thee Forsaken One says:

    Newsnet Scotland is only premoderated for your first week or so of activity. After that you tend to get taken off pre-mod, especially if you badger the online editor about it.
    I'm not premoderated and I've only been a member for about six months or so.
    Sometimes they can be a little anal about the moderation of posts but I think they're getting sensitive about abuse because of the comparisons of being a 'Nat' Scotsman site and we all know what the commenters there are like… I don't think it's an excuse and I wish they would slacken off a little. Also it would be nice if they were a little less fond of using tabloid style headlines.

  17. Arbroath1320 says:

    I used to post quite regularly on NNS, but was sent to the "naughty step" at the end of last year for calling our beloved Scottish Secretary, you know the one, Michael Moore a Traitor. Now, in my view, I was only calling a spade a spade, so to speak. He is the Scottish Secretary so he SHOULD be fighting FOR scotland, however all I ever see is him fighting FOR Westminster, perhaps he should be called the Secretary of State for Westminster.
    I returned from the "Naughty Step" earlier this year but did not last long. πŸ˜€
    I have no idea why I was sent bacvk to the "Naughty Step". After a few attempts at putting up posts and finding them constantly in pre-m,oderation I gave up posting.
    As far as I can see I have never been abusive, OK calling Moore a Traitor might on a clod day with a strong north wind blowing a gale an snow 6 feet thick on the ground be constued as being mildly abusive. Apart from that though I have never knowing being abusive. When I queiried my pre-moderation, 2nd time, part of the response I recall was that they didn't want so much humour on the blogs. They felt "once a day" visitors were only reading as far as the humourous entries and going no further. My response to that sort of argument is "well perhaps they were only looking for the humourous entries!"
    I am the first to admit that I do not hold the answers to much or any of the pro or anti Independence arguments, what I do have, I think, is a reasonable sense of humour and it is this that I use in the posts I send. I find that sometimes discussions can get too bogged down and they need a bit of humour to help "realign" the discussion.
    A person without humour isdead.
    A world without humour is dead.
    A blog space without humour is dead.
    What is the world coming to where "owners" of websites feel the need, the need for speed, sorry the need to remove humourous posts, because they are worried "visitors will not read past the humour?
    It is my personal opinion that it is the humourous posts that make a website's blogging space not the serious discussions. Yes serious discussion is needed but for heavens sake at least moderate it by permitting the humourous posts to break up the continual drtone of seriousness!

  18. RevStu says:

    Yeah, I got re-moderated ages ago for criticising their Scots-language posts in admittedly quite intemperate terms (but at least it seems to have worked), and was still moderated last month, but it looks as if I might be un-moderated again as of this week.

  19. RevStu says:


    Express added. Scottish Times I find so utterly exhausting to read that I can't face it right now. Will have a look later.

  20. Peter A Bell says:

    According to Scottish Times,

    Dame Elish Angiolini was the first woman, the first Procurator Fiscal and the first solicitor to become Lord Advocate.

    Should her name not be Dame Eve Appleeater?

  21. Arbroath1320 says:

    To moderate me off a site ONCE is an error.
    To moderate me off a site TWICE is becoming a hobbit, sorry habit.
    I don't think I'm ready yet to give them the chance to moderate me off for a THIRD time. πŸ˜€

  22. My blog isn't listed.  First comment from a user is moderated.  Once approved they can post without moderation.  A maths plugin stops spambots as I was having a horrendous time with them.  I don't see the point of having too strict a policy but then maybe I haven't attracted enough nutters yet.

  23. auldacquaintance says:

    I use wordpress for my blog, and generally quite like the platform, however all first posts are automatically moderated by wordpress in case of spam. Once I have approved the first comment by a poster, all subsequent comments pass without moderation. I do however keep an eye on things in case of abusive content.

  24. Kenny Campbell says:

    Just watched Tory Party Political Broadcast…….. "A vote for the Conservatives is a Vote for the United Kingdom and a vote for local decision making"
    I know I'm a bit biased against the Tories but that really doesn't make sense to me……..Felt sorry for the young student having her very own Young Haig moment…… I'll be voting conservative <reading autocue>

  25. Kenny Campbell says:

    I find the Herald a bit less tight on their moderation these days and are less likely to  knock stuff back, although it still happens. My biggest issue is that its quite a small subset of people who post on there given the readership and there is at least one real troll on there from down south who is amazingly active on Scottish political articles.

  26. RevStu says:

    It's no surprise few people bother trying to post on the Herald, since everyone who has in the last six months is probably scunnered with their constant failure…

    And yes, I know Mr McKeown (?). Never has trouble getting HIS posts through…

  27. Kenny Campbell says:

    Just thought it was me being 'sensitive'….I think he might be the moderator….. :+)

  28. Jim Campbell says:

    I really enjoy your site.  
    I have used "wedgie" on newsnet  and had no problems.
    I don't think labour hame has been checked for at least a week
    as my (Rhymer) comments are the only ones on the latest blog.

  29. Is the omission of the Caledonian Mercury (neutral) a protest at our Friday songs? πŸ˜‰
    We use Disqus, which, if it we've set it up right, should allow registered Disqus users to comment. 

  30. Jim Campbell says:

    Meant w e e g i e

  31. Arbroath1320 says:

    Kenny Campbell says:
    I know I'm a bit biased against the Tories but that really doesn't make sense to me……..Felt sorry for the young student having her very own Young Haig moment…… I'll be voting conservative <reading autocue>

    By mistake I also saw the Tory P.P.B. As I sat watching the student two questions sprung to mind.
    1) Was she speaking through clenched teeth, akin to how our beloved J. Bird talks when reporting on GOOD news for the SNP.
    2) How much was she paid to say what she said?

  32. ayemachrihanish says:

    Rev Stu, I'd argue that you are providing further evidence that history will record our present time as the early years of a renaissance. The political, social and economic events and changes that are taking place (globally)  are really quite extraordinary. The stats of your own blog are testimony of the growing demand for proper "broadsheet quality"journalism and analysis of Scottish current affairs denied elsewhere. No doubt like others, I'm a regular visiter to WoS because of the content quality –  but recognise that the likes of NNS, as a sort of tabloid site, also have a role to play in the  current affair media landscape. Though maybe they need to calm down a wee bit… 

  33. Macart says:

    NNS has a fairly strict moderation policy these days, which tends to put the breaks on some of the fun threads which made it so addictive to read through early doors. Its still an excellent site to read through, great topics, good writers, contributions are good too, although the lack of an effective search facility can be a pain. Found myself in the naughty bin a couple of times for apparently being too informal and chatty (steady Arb, steady that man). Not rude, not overly O/T, just chatty. So only post there if you feel like a super serious debate 100% of the time. There have been a few good ones recently but I find myself doing more reading than posting there now. A couple days on then several off sort of thing.
    I'm fairly new to this site, but so far the quality of writing and informal posting is very much to my liking. Ease of navigation is just peachy and the links are good. All in all mare powr tae yer keyboard. πŸ™‚

  34. RevStu says:

    "Is the omission of the Caledonian Mercury (neutral) a protest at our Friday songs? ;)"

    Yes. Also, I didn't have a colour for neutral, which is why the New Statesman didn't make it either. I'll have to assign the pair of you one way or the other…

  35. RevStu says:

    "The stats of your own blog are testimony of the growing demand for proper "broadsheet quality"journalism"

    Thanks! But actually I'm aiming for "intelligent tabloid". Sort of like the i, except aware that there's a place called Scotland.

  36. Morag says:

    RevStu, what drove me nuts about this blog when I started reading was the lack of a navigable index to allow the reader to scan the titles of older posts, or see what was posted in Aril 2011 or whatever.  I wanted to read what you'd been posting in the run-up to and the aftermath of the 2011 election, and there seemed to be no way to go straight there.  (I now know I have to search on the word "chickens" to get to the right place.)
    I've had no trouble with NNS, I have to say.  I was only pre-moderated for about a day, and I've only had a handful of posts edited or deleted.  (Yes, come to think of it, they were posts explaining exactly what I knew about James Wilkie, and what I thought of him.  I think the words "delusional" and "fantasist" featured.)
    And I don't think the system had ever signed me out, except the day they were having trouble with their host proviser.
    Oh yes, and at least they let you edit your comments, so you can fix a typo of a formatting foul-up you don't see till it's posted.

  37. RevStu says:

    "RevStu, what drove me nuts about this blog when I started reading was the lack of a navigable index to allow the reader to scan the titles of older posts, or see what was posted in Aril 2011 or whatever.  I wanted to read what you'd been posting in the run-up to and the aftermath of the 2011 election, and there seemed to be no way to go straight there."

    I can fix that easily. I just didn't think people did that sort of thing. Hang on a tick. There you go – right hand bar under Recent Posts.

    (BTW – stuff actually written specifically for Wings Over Scotland doesn't start until November 2011. Everything before that was imported over from my personal blog, where I only wrote occasionally about Scottish politics.)

  38. Morag says:

    Great!  I thought virtually every blog had that facility and was baffled to find it absent here.  You're posting what is often a news digest – of course people are going to want to go back to a particular date to see if you covered something and if so, what you said.

  39. DougtheDug says:

    Does anyone else here remember when the Herald comments were unmoderated with no login? Must be have been before or around 2005 when that was the case.
    It used to be good fun until it got overrun by serial commenters and trolls and the Herald got cold feet about the whole comments business.
    I briefly thought I'd discovered it in an earlier version of Better Nation.
    I gave up on Better Nation when it turned into Labour Hame Lite with its comments policy.

  40. Morag says:

    I remember.  It wasn't much better than the Scotsman is at the moment.  Mind you, that's where I had the encounter with Wilkie where he started cyber-stalking me (but got the wrong person), and threatened me with legal action for questioning the claims he was making.
    I think it might have gone on as long as 2007, but in the end they deleted the lot.  Even articles from that time which had short, uncontentious comments threads are now comments-free.
    I've stopped writing letters to the dead-tree Herald, because they seem to be incapable refraining from editing even the most concise and polished letter to put their own spin on it.  This is a big change from 20 or 30 years ago.  Now, I find myself wondering what their correspondents really said, all the time.  And actually, the online comments are being treated the same way.  It's not worth the bother of commenting.
    I wonder if they edit these frequent contributions from the West Midlands?

  41. ayemachrihanish says:

    "intelligent tabloid" I'm fine with that.

  42. Erchie says:

    I know Mr Kirkpatrick himself is fairly balanced, and he defends his writers, but as long as the only political analysis comes from Hamish MacDonell I do not regard the CalMerc as neutral

  43. Christian Wright says:

    " I know Mr McKeown (?). Never has trouble getting HIS posts through…"
    Yes, funny that. He is prolific, a cage rattler, and most often wrong. His great virtue in the eyes of the Herald censor is that he is a rabid Unionist, one would imagine.
    I posted on the poor research, reasoning, and conclusions of one of their editorials and suggested its author could quit his job at the Herald and go work directly for the Labour party, thereby raising the average IQ in both organizations.
    The post (not pro-moderated), containing neither profanity nor railing invective, stayed up for near twenty four hours, then disappeared. I found my account had been disabled and that I am, apparently, barred for life. Clearly I p****d off the wrong guy.
    Same thing occurred at the Scotsman where my criticism of an article and the journalistic competence of it's author (David Maddox), resulted in it being moderated. Though my account there is still nominally active, I lost posting privileges. Now, when you think of the vituperation characterizing many of the posted contributions there, you wonder why I was singled out for special treatment. 
    One thing's for sure, they don't like it up 'em.

  44. Arbroath1320 says:

    I have a theory. (Steady on now Macart, you know I always have good theories:D)
    We are always being "relyably informed by the "in the know" uniionist media that there is not much call for Independence in Scotland. Well my theory is that the "in the know" media are only reading the posts in the Herald, Hootsmon etc where only pro unioin posts, for the most part, are accepted and printed.
    As we all know if only one side of an argument is printed then only one point of view is seen. What our beloved media do not see is the masses and masses and masses of pro Independence correspondence to these outlets that are never permitted to see the light of day!
    Well folks the pro union media can run but they can NEVER hide from the TRUTH!
    Independence is coming, in 2014, and there is absolutely NOTHING they can do about it!

  45. Christian Wright says:

    RevStu: ". . I'm aiming for "intelligent tabloid". Sort of like the i, except aware that there's a place called Scotland."
    Yes, and therein lies the future. Use plenty of white space.

  46. Kenny Campbell says:

    I wonder if they edit these frequent contributions from the West Midlands?
    I suspect anything from the West Midlands gets straight through the censor as his replies seem to come quite quick.  I did used to think he was an exiled Scot but last week he told someone that "as you are living in England and its so bad then maybe you can go home and they will have a job for you…"….mask slipped a wee bit there.
    I did know a girl who worked for some weekly English Regional newspaper, Cambridge Cronicle or something and one of her jobs was to write letters for the letters page and then write replies the following week……so maybe he is just a pseudo writer for the Herald,  just a guise used to keep the comments flowing. He certainly manages to keep up a great hit rate.

  47. Macart says:

    Very much agree Arb. Its the same with news broadcasts. Whenever straw polls are conducted in the street by the reporter its spooky how the majority of views are unionist when all serious polling figures dictate that the headcount in Scotland should result in exactly the opposite. You wouldn't mind so much if they picked equal numers for airtime (for the sake of, heh, unbiased reporting), but such is rarely the case.

  48. Arbroath1320 says:

    I always wonder Macart how many "members of the public" have to be "interviewed" before our beloved EBC reporter gets the responses they  or their "political contrloller,a.k.a. news editor, want. Sometimes I sit and wonder if the repsondants are "friends of the family." πŸ˜€

  49. Macart says:

    I suppose the good news is that excellent sites like Wings over Scotland and the many others mentioned above do provide that much needed balance to the equation now. I like the idea of 'Intelligent tabloid' as a target. OK, perhaps most of this reporting and certainly blogging are internet based, but as someone who works in the publishing industry, I can tell you now that the writing (forgive the pun) is on the wall for the printed/sold word.
    Independence minded folk have stolen a march on much of the publishing industry here through necessity and are at the cutting edge of future publishing. I could become a hobbitual reader of this net based publishing. πŸ™‚

  50. Seasick Dave says:

    In response to Arbroath1320, I think that you posted far too often on NNS and with too many smiley faces.
    Less is more, if you know what I mean?

  51. Leighton says:

    Yeah must agree with others Wings is currently my favourite of the many Scottish politics blogs I frequent, though as an infrequent commenter its more about blog content and frequent updates than the openness of interaction I like about this blog. As for NNS use banning of the term Weegie has that stood? I read the thread where this first happened but the idea was instantly ridiculed by the posters, included one long standing poster with the term Weegie in his User name, so while I don’t know for fact I would suggest that rule is no longer in place and in general they are a bit more relaxed in terms of modding.
    Some other blog you may have missed.

    Granted the first 2 may not be frequent enough to be included but equally Labour Hame seem be grind to stop too. The second 2 you should definitely have been listed. 

  52. Leighton says:

    Oh and Boo Rev Stu not my1st comment (name and Emailed already saved in comment form) and still my comment is awaiting Moderation, perhaps not as open with comments as you suggest?

  53. RevStu says:

    Nothing to do with moderation – why would the above comment be moderated? Perhaps a different IP address to your previous comment? One posted at home and one at work, maybe?

    Actually, most likely it's the multiple links. Akismet (the built-in WordPress anti-spam filter) treats any post with multiple URLs in it as suspect. And given that your second comment was published before I manually approved the previous one, I'd say that was pretty much 100%.

  54. Arbroath1320 says:

    Careful Macart if you become too hobbitual a reader the goblins may catch you unawares. πŸ˜€ I think you may be right though about the writing being on the wall for the printed press, especially as the monster in the dark that is the Johnson Press are currently "reviewing" their titles, apparently. From what I read recently it would appear that a number of their titles will change from dailies to weeklies, I wonder if the Hootsmon will be one of them. πŸ˜€
    I understand what you are saying SD but it is kind of difficult for me. I'm that kind of person who likes a laugh so when I see things getting too serious I just have to put in a wee smile or two or three or………:D If I may be permitted to repeat something from a previous post.
    A person without humour isdead.
    A world without humour is dead.
    A blog space without humour is dead.
    What is the world coming to where "owners" of websites feel the need, the need for speed, sorry the need to remove humourous posts, because they are worried "visitors will not read past the humour?
    It is my personal opinion that it is the humourous posts that make a website's blogging space not the serious discussions. Yes serious discussion is needed but for heavens sake at least moderate it by permitting the humourous posts to break up the continual drone of seriousness!
    I think this describes me best. I don't DO seriousness in blogging I much rather prefer light hearted banter, for one thing it doesn't tax my solitary brain cell so much.

  55. James says:

    I'm happy at some point to search all my emails for everything from R G Bargie and send it to you. It's quite a job using webmail so it might take a while.
    But seriously, Doug's right: Better Nation needs to be a neutral colour like the esteemed Caley Merc. We have two editors who will vote yes and two who will vote no. 

  56. Adam Davidson says:

    Labour Hame hasn't moderated comments in about 3 weeks, they seem to have given up. Common trend with the labour party.

  57. RevStu says:

    "I'm happy at some point to search all my emails for everything from R G Bargie and send it to you. It's quite a job using webmail so it might take a while."


    "But seriously, Doug's right: Better Nation needs to be a neutral colour like the esteemed Caley Merc. We have two editors who will vote yes and two who will vote no."

    As the piece openly acknowledges, the assignment of affiliations reflects my personal subjective judgement. For the reasons I mentioned before, but chiefly regarding the comment policy, the feeling I get as a nationalist on the rare occasions I visit BN nowadays is that I'm in a hostile environment, not a friendly or neutral one. Only just, but that's how I see it so that's how I call it.

    You never did answer my question about what contradicted your comment policy in (for example) the Bill Walker post I linked to in the footnote.

    With regard to the CalMerc, the honest truth is that it has so little content these days – in terms of politics, at least – that it just never even crosses my mind, which is also why it isn't in the links bar. (LabourHame and Iain Macwhirter's blog are currently in serious danger of removal for the same reason.)

    It's not that I dislike it – quite the reverse, I wish it had been much more successful – but it struggles to manage one post a week about politics, so I never really think of it as an active part of Scottish political debate. And since that one post is almost invariably by Hamish Macdonell, who I think is a very decent writer but I believe is by his own admission a Tory and Unionist, if I did include the CM in the list it'd have to go in the red corner, regardless of its "official" editorial position.

    With regard to the CalMerc ,,, it struggles to manage one post a week about politics, so I never really think of it as an active part of Scottish political debate
    To be fair, we've had six up this week with No 7 going live in a few mins (though admittedly it's more World and UK politics). Most of those pieces were by guest writers – we are always willing to carry opinions from across the range of Scottish voices. Indeed, if anyone here would like to pen something, please email me stewart AT caledonianmercury DOT com.

  59. Craig McGill says:

    if your site can't be searched, you've got something to hide
    Oh come on, that's total nonsense. Many firms and some individuals use custom-built CMS systems and it may not be part of the functionality (you would think it's a basic thing but I've stopped being surprised by the amount of designers who go 'why do you want that?' when asked).
    Also, it we're talking about what makes good online media, linkage is a very important part of that and this article doesn't link to ANY of the blogs mentioned above, which to me is a poor show.
    The use of Disquis and so on is to help a) prevent spam and b) help spread the content, two very useful things.
    (And for the record, all my blogs have search enabled. None of them are political though, so no point mentioning here).

  60. Tonia Wight says:

    Hmm you might want to update this. I submitted a comment over an hour ago to the Daily Record Joan McAlpine blog upon which it said ‘Comment submitted, but you’ll have to wait a bit for moderation’. I just submitted a second comment asking where my comment was and I get “Comment submitted just fine”. Hmmm. Anyway, I think the record *do* indeed have a moderation policy (not very clearly advertised… at least I can’t find it). Plus you don’t need a social media account or at least I wasn’t asked for one (maybe thats why my comment hasn’t come up). Grrrrrrrr.

  61. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    @Tonia – I have noticed today that posts on the DR I made have mysteriously vanished. They were visible previously, and I am not blocked as a user but it would appear that my views are being airbrushed out of existence.

    There are others who post more regularly who complain that articles are “Time locked” so that they cannot comment for the first hour or so yet other users, notably the Unionist ones, seem to get on straight away.

    The DR is being even sneakier than the Herald in guiding and distorting the debate.

  62. Dr Jim says:

    I find strangely ironic that the ‘no’ and dont knows automatically believe the UK polititians when they say there will be no negotiation on the pound,if you were to ask the same people, do they believe everything the UK says,they would admit ,i have no doubt, that these same polititians lie through their teeth,so why so adamant on this,and i can only come to the conclusion that they are afraid, because that’s what we are used to, being told NO.However,given we all know westminster will negotiate with Terrorists,Despotic political leaders,and various other unsavioury types around the world why on earth would they not do the same with lovely civilised Scottish people,or? is this their contemptuous attitude towards us, that we are less than the lunatic governments, and terrorists around the globe they regularly deal with, instead of their friendly next door neighbours who have not fired a shot, thrown a bomb,or barely even raised an angry fist.
    Thankfully, i am not a polititian,far to stressfull a job for me,’BUT’this is my country, and for those who are too afraid, or have never had ambition for advancement,it’s time now to take a long hard look in the mirror and get ourselves out of this vile mess that is’Great?Britain.
    Ahh! feel much better now.

  63. Dave H says:

    Working in transport, I’ve realised that we will have some interesting regulatory things to sort out.

    Let’s start with some basics – we’ll need an equivalent to the Office of Rail Regulation, the Civil Aviation Authority, and the Marine and Coastguard Agency. Each in turn has an independent Accident Investigation Branch, but to be fair the AAIB and RAIB share resources at Farnborough, and I suspect also link in with MAIB. You might spot tha glaring hole in that provision – Highways. Through the objective and impartial investigations, with published findings and recommendations on remedial action, the UK’s air, rail and maritime transport systems have now a commendably low death toll for both passengers and staff (unlike the roads network).

    We do have a road regulator – of sorts, in the shape of a Traffic Commissioner, and the Scottish Commissioner Joan Aitkin eloquently describes her role as “Preventing harm” from the commercial use of the roads by passenger and freight transport operations. The investigation of crashes is carried out by the roads authorities using the deeply flawed ‘section 39’ clause of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1988 – by which they investigate the crashes and then make recommendations to themselves about the faults in road design and management that need fixing. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, as the Roman saying goes.

    Perhaps as an independent Scotland a single Transport Safety Investigation Unit, with 4 divisions for the various modes is the answer.

    Of course an independent Nation with a substantial coastal boundary and maritime heritage must clearly be able to offer a facility to register shipping tonnage. Play this right and an independent Scotland might position itself to be a Flag of Choice, with favorable terms to any shipowners who wish to have vessels registered in Scotland with a clear objective to avoid being a bottom of the barrel Flag of Convenience.

    Whilst on the maritime theme the issue of coastal defence comes up, and one option might be to have a nationally integrated fleet of fast ferries, and even hovercraft, which provide a stategic defence reserve, whilst being maintained and used in normal circumstances, as a vital public transport resource, drawing on the established culture of crofting, to make effective use of the resources throughout the year.

    Returning to the use of road transport, a minor consequence of creating an international border is that all road haulage operators sending drivers and vehicles across that border will – in rUK – need to upgrade from a National Operator’s Licence to an International Operator’s Licence, with over 90,000 Transport Managers then requiring re-qualification to work with an International Cerificate of Professional Competence. If Scotland does not join the EU we’ll also have a pile more paperwork for cabotage and carnets. Freight industry training providers will be at full stretch to meet demand.

    On balance – having lived in Scotland for 38 years, and generally been very pleased with the way things ‘happen’ the Yes option has a lot going for it.

    Let’s hear some views on that important transport picture.

  64. Dave H says:

    As a differnt issue. A while back I took a pitch to stand as an independent candidate for the local Council. Canvassing was going well on one estate when a small batallion of red rosetted rival candidates’ supporters descended on the scene – I had to abandon the area.

    However in the process I did paw over the electoral roll and noticed that a close I had lived in had 18 names registered for the 8 2-person flats, but of those 18 names, just 2 were actually real bona fide residents at that time, the dead-wood had simply hung around on the list, so that a 100% turn-out by those actually living at the address would be seen by the returning officer as an 11% turn-out by the electoral roll count. This year I’ve recovered 6 polling cards from 2 of the flats in the close, all for long departed residents. the potential for personation is huge, but likewise the potential to claim that what may be a massive vote, one way or the other, is not sufficient to clear the bar for a valid decision.

    So I challenge folk to look at their local street and check their local electoral register, and spot just who is a virtual voter.

  65. Dave H says:

    We’ve been here before of course. In 1922 the irish Free State got its own Parliament, and 15 years later in 1937 the country voted in a referendum to split from the United Kingdom. There is a strange parallel with the same 15 year gap between getting a Scottish parliament in 1999, and a referendum 15 years later. All that looks bad is that for Ireland it took another 11 years to get independence, and they stuck with the punt (IRΒ£) until they adopted the Euro.

  66. kiatagal says:

    I can’t seem to post my comment.
    I’ve registered my avatar etc.
    As an Aussie I just want to say all the best with the YES vote and this great site.

  67. Aquarius says:

    Hello Stu. I have been reading WOS for some years now, really since the Referendum. Could I suggest that it would be a good idea for you to have an index of commonly used acronyms. People like me have no idea what WGD (which appeared in some recent comments)is for example although I did manage to work that one out with the help of Google. There is one which is fairly commonly used which might be TBL and I have worked out that it is something to do with the thread attached to your post, but what it means I have no idea! Even in this thread people started referring to NNS. Maybe New National Socialists, Not Noted for Stupidity, but NO Newsnet Scotland is the answer! So a wee button on a page defining all the acronyms would be very helpful for those not in the know. Incidentally I was wondering if the next SNP leader will also be surnamed after a type of fish?

Comment - please read this page for comment rules. HTML tags like <i> and <b> are permitted. Use paragraph breaks in long comments. DO NOT SIGN YOUR COMMENTS, either with a name or a slogan. If your comment does not appear immediately, DO NOT REPOST IT. Ignore these rules and I WILL KILL YOU WITH HAMMERS.

↑ Top