The Evolution of Genre in Wikipedia

Malcolm Clark, Ian Ruthven, Patrik O'Brian Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal for Language Technology and Computational Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2009


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