Harvesting Wiki Consensus - Using Wikipedia Entries as Ontology Elements

, , and . Proceedings of the First Workshop on Semantic Wikis -- From Wiki to Semantics, co-located with the 3rd Annual European Semantic Web Conference (ESWC 2006), ESWC2006, (June 2006)


One major obstacle towards adding machine-readable annotation to existing Web content is the lack of domain ontologies. While FOAF and Dublin Core are popular means for expressing relationships between Web resources and between Web resources and literal values, we widely lack unique identifiers for common concepts and instances. Also, most available ontologies have a very weak community grounding in the sense that they are designed by single individuals or small groups of individuals, while the majority of potential users is not involved in the process of proposing new ontology elements or achieving consensus. This is in sharp contrast to natural language where the evolution of the vocabulary is under the control of the user community. At the same time, we can observe that, within Wiki communities, especially Wikipedia, a large number of users is able to create comprehensive domain representations in the sense of unique, machine-feasible, identifiers and concept definitions which are sufficient for humans to grasp the intension of the concepts. The English version of Wikipedia contains now more than one million entries and thus the same amount of URIs plus a human-readable description. While this collection is on the lower end of ontology expressiveness, it is likely the largest living ontology that is available today. In this paper, we (1) show that standard Wiki technology can be easily used as an ontology development environment for named classes, reducing entry barriers for the participation of users in the creation and maintenance of lightweight ontologies, (2) prove that the URIs of Wikipedia entries are surprisingly reliable identifiers for ontology concepts, and (3) demonstrate the applicability of our approach in a use case.

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