The idea/tendency/faction living ontology pattern lets any group of users or victims of users, debating or being heard by one means or another, (including trolling or hacking or legal action), be recognized as a faction. This is the complete definition normally required by programmers or mediators. See category:faction and support factions for more immediately applicable views.
 How factions arise
This pattern characterizes how individuals come to join epistemic community, social units that are in conflict with other social units for an intellectual or instructional reason. In some definitions, individuals do not necessarily voluntarily join factions, but are required to do so in order to fully participate, e.g. a participatory democracy still requires factions in order to organize participation and training in participatory methods. There may also be needs to assure/insure/ensure other users that persons belong to responsible groups, e.g. a registered political party rather than an anarchist faction.
 common ideas
After enough reactive experience, people usually realize that a reflective process of identifying similarity in positions and trying to engage in collective bargaining or common ground seeking is worthwhile.
 shared tendency
Normally a faction makes itself obvious by persistently advocating some POV or specific position, e.g. "use only FOSS", "block IP of all trolls", "don't eat animals", etc.. Persistence and relatively stable alliances makes a faction, else the view remains merely a tendency.
Within issue/position/argument structures, factions tend to become more obvious, and can negotiate and deal more easily by making tradeoffs across a broader number of issues to keep everyone satisfied (much like a minority parliament!). A dialectic usually applies between competing factions as they help each other refine their views.
 competing repute systems and recognized irreconcilability
The essence of a faction is a shared notion of repute which makes it possible to define a credential, e.g. "has a PhD from Brown" in an academic faction or "ran for the Green Party in 2000" in a political party faction. These can demonstrate certain kinds of skills to advocate/obey/silence that are valued within that group, or certain kinds of experience/credential/repute that have high integrativity with one's own faction, e.g. a good reputation in one party with similar values may be portable to another, but not one with variant values.
To support or join a faction, one does not actually have to "be" a user or even to know any users. For instance, people seeking to boycott a specific corporation, e.g. Microsoft, do not necessarily contact that organization nor do they have any interest in engaging that organization via its own preferred means of communication. Nonetheless a company cannot ignore those who seek to boycott it, so, recognizing even irreconcilable factions early beats trying to pretend the view doesn't exist or can't continue long. Sometimes ignoring opponents serves best, but more often, there exist ways to engage them to defuse the conflict.
The same happens with the troll-sysop struggle: sysops do better avoiding making any social distinction between themselves and trolls, and simply looking at their requests, demands, insults, at face value for the information they contain (i.e.: to put Crocker's Rules in effect for as long as it takes to process the trolling). Remember, any information including information about what you have done wrong or who you have upset or hurt, has value to your mission.
 formalizing factions
Some large public wikis have proposed formal factions to help in the more complex mediation and arbitration and POV problems. For instance users who object to pages on trollish or Marxism or why Microsoft is good, might not be the best people to assess the accuracy of such pages, and may need to get an opinion from a faction that supports that view, regarding those facts. See faction/repute/key for another pattern that makes automating this possible. See DemocraKey for a simple mechanism factions can use to retain political privacy.
 advantages of factions
As with a political party, factions serve to organize views so that they can present effectively to those who do not share the view, and to keep the least ethical presenters of the view in line. They can perhaps also placate others, to acknowledge a view as heard, at least collectively, even if it isn't heeded. To keep factionally-defined terms properly defined is a main purpose of them - this enables the creation of epistemic filters and enactivist nets.