Point of View (POV) railroading refers to the use of bullying tactics to discredit an editor with an opposing viewpoint or to eliminate them from a discussion. Tactics can include frustrating the editor, hostility that discourages them from participating, or creating a false narrative that misrepresents actual events or edits in order to discredit the editor. These tactics are used to win an argument or take control of an article or topic area by focusing on the editor rather than the edits and editing process.
A "false narrative" refers to the fabrication of a "story" about another editor in an attempt to discredit them, damage their reputation within the community, frustrate, or bait them. Unsubstantiated accusations of canvassing or conflict of interest, labeling an editor as a point-of-view pusher, or accusing them of being a sock puppet or meat puppet of a banned user are common false narratives. Editors may also misrepresent actual edits (including their own) or take diffs out of context to support a skewed version of events that supports their false narrative.
Editors may attack or discredit another editor using a distorted interpretation of Wikipedia's behavioral policies and guidelines. They may quote policies in misleading ways, by citing them out of context, with extreme interpretations and without relevant disclaimers and exceptions. In other cases, a "policy bomb"—known as "alphabet soup"—may be used to bombard an editor with accusations of violations so numerous and so vague that the targeted editor feels intimidated.
False narratives and canvassing can be used to recruit multiple editors who "pile-in" to support a viewpoint or editor, resulting in the opposing editor being outnumbered, and feeling intimidated, helpless or under attack. A group of editors with a similar viewpoint may create a clique in which they rely on each other to support a point-of-view and act together to eliminate editors who do not share their POV.
POV railroading also occurs on a one-to-one basis and may involve a condescending, patronizing, sarcastic and insulting tone. It may include the insertion of hidden text and repeatedly reverting edits without discussion or explanation (peremptory deletions). Baiting and goading opponents until they become angry and uncivil is another POV-railroading tactic.
POV railroading may be performed in attempts to malign or destroy the reputation of targeted editors by labeling, shaming, branding and discrediting them in a progressively more prejudiced and misleading manner, until the targeted editor leaves a topical or discussion area out of frustration or tiredness, or is potentially blocked or banned.
Tactics can include continuously and exclusively referring to users in a negative manner, the continuous use of personal attacks that escalate in severity over time and the casting of WP:ASPERSIONS in a generalized manner, without providing any actual qualification for the claims, such as diffs, instead basing claims upon proof by assertion. Another tactic is to continuously mislabel the target as a disruptive editor in various venues, in deliberate attempts mischaracterize entirely normative, civil and functional actions as deviant.
POV railroading is sometimes performed to create and maintain an ongoing smear campaign against users in multiple areas of Wikipedia. Such attacks may be stated in a highly exaggerated and personalized manner, whereby the railroader attempts to manipulate public opinion against their target through appeals to emotion, rather than facts. Attacks are typically stated from an entirely subjective and biased point of view, are typically stated using intentional open-ended overgeneralizations, and are typically performed per severe ulterior motives.
A user engaging in POV railroading may alert other like-minded users to their cause both on- and off-wiki in attempts to recruit confederates. Furthermore, if blocked or banned, the target may be used as a scapegoat for problems in articles. If additional opponents show up, the POV railroader may accuse new editors of being sock-puppets or meat-puppets of the sanctioned editor.
POV railroading is an insidious form of bullying that discourages new editors and increases attrition amongst veteran editors. It amplifies Wikipedia's systemic bias (whether that bias be of a gender-based, ethnicity-based, region-based, country-based etc. nature) and creates content bias in article and topic areas. Lastly, it gives Wikipedia an undesirable reputation as a place where aggression and gaming the system are permitted, valued and rewarded.