My understanding is that there are a few criteria for this trope.
1.Alice makes a point to Bob that the reader is supposed to
2.Alice, in part or in whole, is proven right in story
3.This resultwas not the author's intention
I think in addition to the discussion over what constitutes a straw argument, there are a few other issues with each of the criteria to the trope- specifically whether and how much a work qualifies in each regard- that I will discuss in more detail.
1.There's the question of whether you're meant to disagree with the person. The fact that the majority of the characters, or the more "reasonable" characters disagree doesn't necessarily always imply that you're meant to. On the other hand, having other characters back up the straw man is one of the best ways to prevent that individual from being a straw man.
An example is the editor in chief's decision in Bakuman。
to put the main characters' series on hiatus while Mashiro was in the hospital. Most of the mangaka disagree, but it's also indicated that Mashiro's mother wants him to quit manga altogether, and this is a compromise. Mashiro ultimately accepts the decision to keep his series on hiatus until he gets out of the hospital. As for the editor in chief, some chapters later, when he tells Takahama that he can't switch editors, the main characters admit that he has a point and they've been blaming Miura too much, ultimately using his
logic to get a deal to end Tanto early. Thus, the editor faces opposition, but he's not necessarily meant to be seen as wrong, nor is he meant to be a strawman.
The character's reasons should also be considered; strawmen often involve a fair amount of hypocrisy, dishonesty or self-serving ulterior motives that indicate that they don't believe what they're saying. Having these and being right in spite of them would make a character a strawman who has a point.
In addition, works with no morally clear protagonists largely don't fall into this, since they don't have people you're meant to root for. See the World of Warcraft
entry; as I pointed out, Sylvanas and the Forsaken might have a claim to Lordaeron, but there are also living Lordaeron refugees out there; perhaps the two groups have both have a right to Lordaeron that the other is unfairly denying.
2.There's four variants as to how much a strawman is proven right in a work, and the relevancy of the parts they are right about.
A.Alice is entirely right. This would make this a textbook example, but it's rare for a character to be both a strawman intended to be seen as wrong and completely on the mark.
B.Alice is right on one regard. See Cerberus' entry in Mass Effect
, which indicates that even if they're not entirely moral, they're trying to save the galaxy from the Reapers.
C.Alice brings up a point that isn't necessarily relevant, but fans believe is dismissed out of hand. See the Pirates of the Caribbean
entry, which argues that the danger pirates pose is being downplayed.
D.Alice is wrong, but is not at fault for thinking this way. For example, the Nanoha page had Regius described as one in the vein of this trope, with it being argued that he's right to view Hayate as a criminal and view her with distrust (not only is she entirely heroic, but according to some discussion, she seems to be Taking the Heat
with regards to the Book of Darkness incident).
Regarding how much they fit, only A counts decisively. With B, it is often the case that Alice is wrong about the larger issue; it's possible that there are downsides to the heroes' position that they may know about, but their way is still better in most regards. C is almost purely fan speculation and disagreeing with the author; the fans might be right, but none of the evidence for their positions comes from the work itself. D seems to be a case of the character being misinformed rather than a strawman.
3.Perhaps only the author really knows what readers are meant to think, as can be shown by Word of God. Did they fail to convince the readers or were the readers not necessarily meant to agree? The more people side with the strawman, the less clear it becomes.
The short of it is that the problem with this trope is that the criteria for the standards of the trope are nebulous, and can often be influenced by the assumptions of the editor nominating an example. One editor might assume that a certain character is being unfairly maligned, while another might assume another strawman has more of a point than he gets credit for. Granted, it is a YMMV trope, but even those tropes have their own specific standards for what does and does not qualify. If we cannot come to a definite conclusion about what this trope should be, I favor removing it altogether.