Writeprint is a method in forensic linguistics of establishing author identification over the internet, likened to a digital fingerprint. Identity is established through a comparison of distinguishing stylometric characteristics of an unknown written text with known samples of the suspected author (writer invariants). Even without a suspect, writeprint provides potential background characteristics of the author, such as nationality and education.
There are five broad aspects to author identification in writeprint:
- lexical features- The analysis of the lexicon, the author's choice of vocabulary.
- syntactic features- The analysis of the author's writing style and sentence structure, such as: punctuation, use of passive voice, and sentence complexity.
- structural features- The analysis of the author's organization of the work. These include paragraph length, spacing, and indentation.
- content-specific features- The analysis of the language that is contextually significant to subject of the written work. Examples include the use of slang or acronyms that are specific to a crime like pirating software or hacking.
- idiosyncratic features- The analysis of errors and other ungrammatical elements that may be unique to the author.
While the five features above are the traditional methods of author identification, there are features unique to online text. Features such as choice in font, the use of emojis, and links to other websites all provide a path to identification which is absent in traditional text analysis.
- Li, Jiexun; Zheng, Rong; Chen, Hsinchun (April 2006). "From Fingerprint to Writeprint". Communications of the ACM. 49 (4): 76–82. doi:10.1145/1121949.1121951.
- Abbasi, Ahmed; Chen, Hsinchun; Nunamaker Jr., Jay F. (Summer 2008). "Stylometric Identification in Electronic Markets: Scalability and Robustness". Journal of Management Information System. 25 (1): 49–78. JSTOR 40398926.
- Rehmeyer, Juli (Jan 13, 2007). "Digital Fingerprints". Science News. 171 (2): 26–28. JSTOR 3982506.
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