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The evolution of genre in Wikipedia.

Clark, Malcolm John; Ruthven, Ian; Holt, Patrik O'Brian


Malcolm John Clark

Ian Ruthven

Patrik O'Brian Holt


This paper presents an overview of the ways in which genres, or structural forms, develop in a community of practice, in this case, Wikipedia. Firstly, we collected data by performing a small search task in the Wikipedia search engine (powered by Lucene) to locate articles related to global car manufacturers, for example, British Leyland, Ferrari and General Motors. We also searched for typical biographical articles about notable people, such as Spike Milligan, Alex Ferguson, Nelson Mandela and Karl Marx. An examination of the data thus obtained revealed that these articles have particular forms and that some genres connect to each other and evolve, merge and overlap. We then looked at the ways in which the purpose and form of a biographical article have evolved over six years within this community. We concluded the work with a discussion on the usefulness of Wikipedia as a vehicle for such genre investigations. This small analysis has allowed us to start generating a number of detailed research questions as to how forms may act as descriptors of genre and to discuss plans for experimental work aimed at answering these questions.


CLARK, M., RUTHVEN, I. and HOLT, P.O'B. 2009. The evolution of genre in Wikipedia. Journal for language technology and computational linguistics [online], 24(1), pages 1-22. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 31, 2009
Online Publication Date Dec 31, 2009
Publication Date Dec 31, 2009
Deposit Date Mar 18, 2015
Publicly Available Date Mar 18, 2015
Journal Journal for language technology and computational linguistics
Print ISSN 2191-6858
Electronic ISSN 2191-6858
Publisher GSCL German Society for Computational Linguistics and Language Technology
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 1-22
Keywords Information Retrieval (IR); Wikipedia articles; Genres; Communities of practice
Public URL
Publisher URL


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