A “point of view warrior” is someone on Wikipedia that is willing to be disruptive to see a page reflect their radical viewpoints. In this case study, the client had previously made a political statement and some changes to their product that some customers didn’t like. Afterward, an editor started adding their personal opinions about the company to the Wikipedia page about the client, often with citations to the client’s own website or blog.
Generally, a crowd-sourced Wikipedia editor will only be sanctioned for inappropriate conduct, not for poor content. For example, editors are often banned for using multiple accounts deceptively or for intentionally ruining pages (called vandalism). In the context of a point-of-view warrior, they will generally be sanctioned for acting contrary to “consensus.”
“Consensus” is the primary means of decision-making on Wikipedia. To over-simplify, in most cases it merely means that decisions are made based on what most editors voted for. In line with this, Wikipedia has a three revert rule. Once an editor’s changes are reverted three times by others, they can be blocked. This is because they are insisting on their version of the page even when consensus runs contrary to their edits.
To understand the client’s difficult siutation, put yourself in the metaphorical shoes of a Wikipedia administrator. What is it going to sound like if a corporation comes out of the blue and asks to block an editor adding criticisms to their page?
We know this editor is only a point of view warrior, but only because I spent the time to review months of editing records. Through this exercise, I saw them repeatedly revert any changes to the page made by others. I saw them make frivolous excuses to remove good content and add their own personal opinion.
The Wikipedia admin is unlikely to spend the same time conducting a review of months of editing records. They are unlikely to block an editor even if they did, without some consensus, second and third chances, and other processes.
Now that we’ve walked in the administrator’s metaphorical shoes, we know that we need them to walk a mile in ours. They have to experience the troll for themselves to really understand what’s going on. We’ll need to achieve two things: (1) consensus and (2) escalation.
Consensus requires participation from several editors on a content question that any reasonable editor would support. Consensus is stronger than a mere majority, so we need a content issue that we expect 100% of editors to support. A cloudy consensus will often lead to inaction.
Escalation requires those editors participating to be engaged. After all, they need to be at least as determined and engaged than the point of view warrior.
The client followed our advice and their handling of the situation eventually resulted in sanctions against the point of view warrior.
They started by asking for changes to the page on Wikipedia’s Neutral Point of View Noticeboard. This attracted two participants, who started deleting the point of view warrior’s content. However, those participants were not fully engaged. Both were promptly reverted by the point of view warrior and neither followed through.
Then the client posted on the Reliable Sources Noticeboard, pointing out some of the point of view warrior’s citations that clearly did not support the personal opinions they were putting into the article. The client also solicited for help from a couple editors directly.
With time and patience, engaged editors trickled in. Eventually, escalation occurred when the three engaged editors all supported a change to the article that the point of view warrior didn’t like. The warrior reverted the change three times. Without the client’s prompting or request, the crowd-sourced editors sought page protection, which was approved.
The point of view could have easily circumvented page protection and continued making edits by creating an account or waiting a week. However, they did not and this was as far as the situation had to go. We never saw them again.
Afterwards, the client followed up by sharing a draft of a vastly improved and expanded version of the article.