A long time ago - way before the 2014 referendum - I invited some "Cybernats", the most zealous and angry online supporters of independence, for tea. I even convinced my then boss to stump up for some scones and jam.

What would these men (yes, men) be like in the flesh? Would they be quite so, well, weird in real life as they are on Twitter, Facebook and in the below-the-line comments on the digital versions of articles like this one?

I may never know. Nobody accepted my invitation. Some, at least, were polite enough to explain why: they feared a trap, a trap by the MSM, the mainstream media.

In the end it did not take trickery for the Cybernats to hit the headlines. Shortly after my scones were rejected, one of the more pro-British tabloids ran its first expose on keyboard warriors. Some looked quite vulnerable.

Unionists, of course, love Cybernats. Why would they not? Angry digital zealots, after all, make a much easier opponents than polished but human TV debaters like Nicola Sturgeon or Patrick Harvie.

Anyone wanting a clue about why this is so only needs to look to the United States. There some supporters of Republican Donald Trump- and even the candidate himself - are like Cybernats on steroids. Polls? They're rigged? MSM? Biased. Their Democrat opponent? A crook. Watching the US elections has been one long deja vu. Twitter is truth, goes one American social media slogan, MSM is lies. But sounding bonkers on Twitter does not win votes.

Like Trumpers, Yes fringe voices online love to hate the MSM and celebrities. They pick on exactly the kind of people who have the barrels of ink or huge Twitter followings to hit back at them. The result? Cybernats get a much higher profile for their disastrous online interactions than their similarly angry Unionist foes. I think this is about the daftest PR strategy ever.

Cybernats hurt the Yes cause in 2014. How much? I am not sure. But I remember top Yes campaigners holding their heads in their hands as they saw whole weekends wasted by pickets of the BBC HQ or Twitter spats followed by days of negative "debate" over whether independence leaders tolerated free speech.

So with another potential referendum on the horizon, I wondered how the SNP mainstream felt about a new wave of cybernattery, So, on condition of anonymity, I asked some senior figures in the party. Their response? They're worried, some very much so, some just a little.

Nobody, SNP figures stressed, likes an unreasonable zealot, "We lost last time because we did not persuade enough voters," said one campaigner. "It just does not work to tell such people, most of whom took perfectly rational views, that they were immoral or traitors or - worst of all - that they were so stupid they were duped by a conspiracy of media lies." So how does the mainstream protect itself from its own extreme flank? They do not know yet. I think they need to figure this out. Should they challenge more online? Risk claims the SNP is bullying non-party Yessers? Maybe they should invite them to tea and ask them nicely to stop? The scones are on me.