Editors have learned that formation into "gangs" is the most effective way of imposing their views on opposite-minded contributors. It makes a travesty of the revert-rule when one individual can simply send an e-mail alert to friends requesting a timely "revert favour" once he has reached the limit of his daily reverts. This may apply to deletion debates as well, where a group of editors may be organised so as to always vote en masse in favour of keeping an article written by one of the gang, or related to the gang's main field of interest; or to push through deletion if their interest is a deletionism. Gangs sometimes do serious damage to Wikipedia's policies and guidelines also; by ganging up they can be written to say almost anything.
Summarized, Wikipedia suffers from cabal-like behaviors, in which controlling narrative is a relatively straightforward process. In short:
- Choose a topic to control.
- Find or hire like-minded users, and coordinate with them via a private network for immediate coordination.
- As objections to edits typically filter in one by one, coordinating with the rest of the cabal, one can claim Wp:Consensus even if the aggregate is actually opposed to this.
- Appoint cabal users as administrators, to assist with "problem users". Abusing this privilege is a relatively safe process as the essay also states:
Wikipedia administrator vandalism itself is only controlled weakly, and there's insufficient power to desysop a popular tyrant. Only the most abusive administrators – perhaps 2% total – have their statuses removed.
Is it the case that SE has or actively does suffer from similar issues? Say for example, would it profit Foo Incorporated, a competitor to The Bar Foundation, to hire a few people to actively monitor their respected tags, looking to harass Anti-Foo contributors, questions, answers, and tags while promoting all things Pro-Bar?
On the various SE's, I have never personally recognized any behavior that would pass for shilling, but maybe I am not looking hard enough.
If it largely has not been an issue, to what can we attribute this success to? If it has, where and why does it exist?