I take a controversial stance on this, 9 times out of 10 I say you should skip scout if you are very active. Mainly because of the farming technique, I am going to introduce you to. Farm with 1-2 lc to all villages in your 15 by 15 for this you need to literally send constantly as soon as there is 1 lc in your village it should be out the door. It is critical that you also use the market constantly to get an influx of iron and sell your clay or wood for horrible ratio’s even if its 2:1 you want the iron. You should use your sp for further away larger hauls, constantly building lc. Note I suggest you halt all other productions until you have enough lc to maintain all of your ques easily, probably around 80-100 lc. At that point, research all the troops if you have missed any bar archers obviously. Then continue to just build up until you reach a good lc level to hq whore your little butt off. The fewer the buildings you build before you build your hq up the better.
Clearing? When and where well if you have a good income no-one, if you have a bad income and need more, well look at who is inactive, also look at whose odd went up, scout everyone. Then mail everyone see who wants a personal alliance, or just say hello check to see if they respond, and when they read it. In my opinion, it is best to make as little impact as possible on your area and make as many friends as possible. It is a turbulent time and cats and a few angry poor players can turn a good village into nothing very quickly if you fail to build defense and make good with the locals. With militia nowadays it is a very bad idea to clear an active player.
If you are less active go scouts so you can send your troops less constantly and still pick up good hauls, follow rest of advice above.