2007 - 2021

Comments on Comments

A few words on our Comments policy.

Bella has basically been one long massive argument argument for over a decade, and that’s exactly as it should be. We like to allow wide-ranging dissenting and sharp debate. It’s one of the things that makes Bella different, we don’t have a stagnant consensus of nodding heads all agreeing with each other.

But we’ve removed people who are just Trolls, people whose only purpose (and for some a considerable amount of time and expertise) is to attack every single article. Some of these people are clearly professional. But whether you’re amateur or professional, if your only purpose is to undermine and oppose everything we write, you will be tolerated for a period and then removed. It is the same as meeting someone in the pub who turns out to be obnoxious and abusive every single time you meet.

Secondly, ad hominem attacks and personal abuse won’t be tolerated. If you don’t like an article that’s fine – but try and address the authors ideas – not the person.

Third, while we tolerate some people using pseudonyms, and this can be useful, if we feel you are doing this simply so you can spread bile, you’ll be removed.

Finally, racism, xenophobia, or misogyny won’t be tolerated. Neither will climate change denialism. It’s 2020.

This isn’t to create some bland boring space, but to cultivate and sustain a better standard of debate and discussion. If the quality of public discourse and political debate is going down the toilet, that doesn’t mean we have to emulate that process. If we don’t try and nurture better conversation we end up with anecdoche – a word I hadn’t heard before – a conversation in which everyone is talking but no-one is listening.

Here endeth the lesson.


Comments (32)

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  1. Bert Logan says:

    Well said.

  2. Jim Anderson says:

    I was blocked from your Facebook page for questioning the politics and obvious bias of your administrators! I was not aggressive, I did not use abusive language but simply used the admins own comments to illustrate my views. Seems your own admins are at odds with your own rules.

    1. James Cassidy says:


    2. I don’t have any admins Jim. We disbanded the Facebook group of 16,000 members because the quality of debate was so low.

      1. Jim Anderson says:

        Bella on Facebook did have Admins – one in particular did not like being asked if she was biased. I gave my personal experience of how a policy/project in the health service had been taken forward successfully for all concerned despite serious opposition from unionist parties and some locals. This particular Admin decried every comment I made in the local Labour party’s representatives words. I provided many examples of her Labour Party in Scotland’s comments. Immediately blocked!

        1. Bella on Facebook did have Admins because we were administering a group of 15,000 members.

          They were all volunteers. Sorry if you had a bad experience with them – that would be ow many years ago now?

  3. James Ritchie says:

    A sensible approach, thanks

  4. Robbie says:

    Love reading Bella,and you can usually spot the odd smart arse replies

  5. Chas says:

    Well said. I too had never heard of ‘anecdoche’ but it sums up westminster for me.

  6. Graham Gemmell says:

    Hooray! A sensible and balanced approach to critiquing…..as opposed to slagging off!!

  7. Jack collatin says:

    Every ow and again, but only when I know that there is enough hot water to wash the bile from my creaking gnarled arthritic frame afterwards, I delve in to the BTl of our almost 100% exclusive Brit Nat Anglo-centric Dead Tree Scrolls.
    Yesterday, an Pseudo over on the Hootsman, I like that particular pseudo, suggested that WM disband Holyrood, and in anticipation of our very own Bloody Sunday erupting, send the SAS Up Here to ‘shoot’ us Nasty Nats.
    We have at last won the ‘war of words’.
    There is no coherent argument for continuing in a Union with England now.
    When Indyref2 begins, their litany of lies in the run up to the Sept 2014 plebiscite are easily debunked and would be the subject of ridicule throughout the New Media, online.
    Lord Flipper of Darling will be portrayed in his scarlet and ermine robes, his ‘brown envelope’ kick back for lying about oil, the pound, the ten year wait for Independent Scotland being accepted as an EU member, and pensioners having their UK Pensions taken away from them.
    I’ll make a point, as will several tens of thousands of YES campaigners to attend Better Together’s ‘secret’ meetings where the Clunking Fist, John Major, Corbyn the Commie, and Phil Spreadsheet Hammond are whisked North for 45 minutes, and the Scottish Dead Tree Scrolls and The Propaganda Brit Nat Broadcast Unit are ordered to attend and record every Scotland is shite, and we should be grateful that England is still running their colony Up Here drivel.
    WE attack every sentence, every radio broadcast, every column of lies threats and insult from now on in.
    I commend your editorial on trolling.
    You may note that I use my name, I’m in the book.
    I can understand why some prefer anonymity, for work reasons, or socially because they want to keep their own counsel in their neighbourhood.
    But to troll that I should be shot by the SAS? That one of our Dead Tree Scrolls allows this unmoderated?
    Beyond anybody’s Pale.
    As an aside, the definitions of ‘The Balance of probabilities’ as opposed to ‘Beyond reasonable doubt’ have been chucked in the Juris Prudence bin, following today’s Bloody Sunday decisions.
    We live in darkening times.

    1. Ian says:

      “We have at last won the ‘war of words’.
      There is no coherent argument for continuing in a Union with England now.
      When Indyref2 begins, their litany of lies in the run up to the Sept 2014 plebiscite are easily debunked and would be the subject of ridicule throughout the New Media, online.”

      It’s this kind of lazy “There is no case…”, “It’s easy to debunk their lies..” that makes me think Scotland will vote No again next time. Clearly the argument for Indy wasn’t convincing enough last time and needs to be better next time.

      1. Jack collatin says:

        Quod erat demonstrandum, Ian.
        The classic retort from Better Together during Indyref1.
        On here I am expected to satisfy your faux frustration that Indyref2 will be the feckless mess (in your eyes) that Indyref 1 was, because of my ‘lazy’ thought process.
        Aye, right.
        Why have we on the YES side got to ‘prove’ everything to Brit Natsis?
        The Truth will out, this time, Ian.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      Well done for retaining access to The Hootsmon’s comment strings for so long, Jack! That habitat had been carefully cultivated for Unionist bottom-feeders for many years now. I was blocked some time ago for reminding readers that Brian Wilson was Tony Blair’s Special Envoy to Iraq. That seemed to upset somebody.

  8. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    I support your approach. Well done. I, too, always use my name.

    PS where is the most recent article by Rob Brown on sectarianism, etc? I skip read it this morning, intending to return later today to give it more attention, but, I cannot find it.

    1. Hi Alasdair – we pulled it down – we are republishing it in two different parts. The author thought, and I agreed, that there was a lot going on it and he is re-drafting as two separate articles. Apologies for the confusion.

      1. Alasdair Macdonald says:


        Thanks for the reply and explanation. It is probably a sensible decision, because on my quick scan, it seemed to have several strands and I was not sure how they knitted, if at all!

        1. Yeah – our mistake – hope it works better as two distinct pieces

  9. MBC says:

    Well said. These are trying times.

    It is one thing to be a sceptic. Sceptics search for truth. It is another thing to be a cynic, cynics don’t think truth exists ordeserves to be found. And troll? They believe in nothing.

  10. John S Warren says:

    Glad to see this clear expression of policy, Mike.

    1. Thanks John – it’s a fine line – if we just let everything go then the whole site goes downhill, in my opinion.

      1. Derek Thomson says:

        Yes, but you should be capable of apology when you get it wrong, as you did when you made a comment about my “bitter subculture” which was entirely wrong on every single count. Other than that, totally agree with the article.

  11. Chris Connolly says:

    Grand. I wish The National would do likewise. All power to Bella’s elbow.

    1. Alistair Taylor says:

      Totally agree with you, Chris.
      And thanks again, Mike.
      (This is my real name, and i am a real person.)
      See you for a pint soon, Jack Collatin.

    2. james cormack says:

      The National is far too pc and simply doesn’t publish comments/letters that don’t conform to that mindset.

  12. Jac says:

    Well said Mike, it takes a lot of time and effort to do what you’re doing.
    Glad you’re not letting the trolls dominate and divert.

  13. Me Bungo Pony says:

    How do you know what is and isn’t a “pseudonym”? Obviously mine is. Not for nefarious purposes but simply a combination of having used it for over a decade, liking it and my wife not wanting the windows panned in by a unionist (George Square) nutter. Especially after I got hate mail when I’d written a letter to the Courier ( I don’t do that anymore as the Courier insists on putting your full address).

    All the names here could be pseudonyms. Unless you have ways of telling which are and which aren’t.

    1. All the names COULD be pseudonyms but arent. People often explain when it is their real name – and Me Bungo Pony and Redgauntlet clearly aren’t.

    2. John S Warren says:

      The answer to your question is, we don’t. All that can be done by the moderators is provide a standard, and a test; and to hold participants to the integrity of the request, as best they may. If someone fails it then the greatest failure belongs to to the person who was prepared to fail the standard. To give an honest opinion in open debate requires of the individual that he or she is prepared to accept personal responsibility for holding the opinion; this is fundamental, not a fashion accessory. The only excuse for a pseudonym is for whistleblowers; everybody else is taking advantage of an exclusive exception.

      There is no justification for pseudonyms on any other grounds. None. I believe the casual and endemic use of pseudonyms on social media has been pernicious, and seriously damaged the standard of our bolitical debate.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        All I’m saying is that if there is no way of telling what is and isn’t a pseudonym then there is no point in “outlawing” them. If you’re only going to outlaw the obvious ones, all those with dubious motives have to do is invent a more ordinary pseudonym. Would my posting be any more acceptable if I called myself “John Barton” or Gladys Pearson (to make up a couple from the top of my head)?

        1. John S Warren says:

          You can do that of course. It would be poor, but you can do that. It is a wretched argument to justify protecting your identity, in order simply to avoid or evade anyone being able to identify the owner of your opinions. In my opinion this simply reduces the credibility of whatever you write, because you are not prepared openly to stand behind them. This seems to me obvious. I do not argue that it is your choice; and you are welcome to it.

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