We are sponsoring the "Scotland's Future" group of forums and have now made a start at configuring these.

This group of forums are intended to assume Scotland has voted YES to independence and so the forums will mirror the various Government departments and in there we will be discussing how to decide on policies for each department. At this time the main forums, other than the two I've just created "General Messages" and "Diaspora View", will be moderated.

Essentially there will be a moderator for each forum that also has special knowledge of the subject. What is wanted is serious discussion on how to create policies for each Government department that will take the country forward. An outline plan will be put forward and then discussions and perhaps polling will take place.

As there is a risk of the forums being swamped by daft messages it has been decided that each message entered will be subject to moderation before it becomes public which means your post will not appear right away. This is not any kind of censorship but merely a means of trying to keep the noise down. I'm sure for example that a lot of you will have seen the comments added to news stories on the newspaper sites. Many of the posts are totally useless and just noise.

We have no problem in someone saying this is a lot of rubbish but the person will also need to explain why its a lot of rubbish and to be factual. We are after all trying to come up with real policies to take the country forward.

It also should be obvious that people are left, center or right or green in their views. This means we are unlikely to get consensus unless there is some compromise. That then will be part of the process trying to get to a set of policies that are agreed on by the majority.

And so when you post you should be in a position to defend your position. It's really not acceptable to say that it's well known this is the situation. How is it well known and what is the source of your information? And so as you can see we're looking for quality of posts rather than volume of posts.

On the whole I prefer no moderation so I have created a non moderated forum for "General Messages" where anyone can post whatever they wish subject to of course our general terms for use of the community. In other words we won't allow personal attacks and rude posts. Civilised behaviour is expected.

I have also created a non moderated "Diaspora View" where people not resident in Scotland can offer their views for consideration. At the end of the day it is the people of Scotland that will decide their own future so it's their decisions that will make the country what it will become. However Scotland can not survive in isolation and as the Scots Diaspora have a rich skill set I see no point in excluding them from the conversation and we should welcome their input.

I do think it's important that we recognise local Scots and by this I mean Scots that are entitled to vote in the referendum. I feel that if they select the Scotland flag when joining or subsequently select it if they are already a member then that would help us differentiate between us as to who's local and who is not.

I don't as yet foresee us making progress on this until perhaps October time when we hope to start adding the specific government department forums along with their moderators. We may get of the ground a little earlier depending on how things go. At this time we believe we can have 6 of the departments with moderators in place by October or earlier. As we get things organised we will add this information to the special web page we've created at http://www.electricscotland.com/future

Should you be someone with skill sets that could help and you would like to become one of the moderators for a department yet to be filled we'd be happy to hear from you. Likewise as we get going we'd love for you to spread the word to anyone that you believe would be well qualified to help with any of the departments or just to get involved in the discussion. Remember we are looking for quality of messages and participants and not volume.

So there you have it and hope that by the time we're ready to launch that this will become a great place to have a serious discussion on Scotland's future direction as an Independent country. And remember these sets of forums are not here to decide whether we should say yes or no in the referendum but rather from the point of view that it's already been a YES vote and so how do we proceed.

Alastair