Wikipedia Text Reuse: Within and Without

Authors : Milad Alshomary, Michael Völske, Tristan Licht, Henning Wachsmuth, Benno Stein, Matthias Hagen, Martin Potthast

We study text reuse related to Wikipedia at scale by compiling the first corpus of text reuse cases within Wikipedia as well as without (i.e., reuse of Wikipedia text in a sample of the Common Crawl).

To discover reuse beyond verbatim copy and paste, we employ state-of-the-art text reuse detection technology, scaling it for the first time to process the entire Wikipedia as part of a distributed retrieval pipeline.

We further report on a pilot analysis of the 100 million reuse cases inside, and the 1.6 million reuse cases outside Wikipedia that we discovered. Text reuse inside Wikipedia gives rise to new tasks such as article template induction, fixing quality flaws due to inconsistencies arising from asynchronous editing of reused passages, or complementing Wikipedia’s ontology.

Text reuse outside Wikipedia yields a tangible metric for the emerging field of quantifying Wikipedia’s influence on the web. To foster future research into these tasks, and for reproducibility’s sake, the Wikipedia text reuse corpus and the retrieval pipeline are made freely available.


Patterns of Text Reuse in a Scientific Corpus

“We consider the incidence of text “reuse” by researchers, via a systematic pairwise comparison of the text content of all articles deposited to from 1991–2012. We measure the global frequencies of three classes of text reuse, and measure how chronic text reuse is distributed among authors in the dataset. We infer a baseline for accepted practice, perhaps surprisingly permissive compared with other societal contexts, and a clearly delineated set of aberrant authors. We find a negative correlation between the amount of reused text in an article and its influence, as measured by subsequent citations. Finally, we consider the distribution of countries of origin of articles containing large amounts of reused text.”