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Wikis as Tools in Genetics

I’ve been planning to write about these wikis that can be very useful tools in the hands of researchers for a long time. The first one is WikiPathway which is an open platform dedicated to the curation of biological pathways by and for the scientific community.

wikipathways

The second is the WikiGenes which aims to build the database of evolutionary knowledge on Nature.com.

wikigenes

The reason why I mention the third one now is there is a new publication focusing on the pros and cons of using a wiki in genetics research. In Wikipedia, Andrew and his friends created the Gene Portal a year ago and later analyzed the usability and the results.

Annotating the function of all human genes is a critical, yet formidable, challenge. Current gene annotation efforts focus on centralized curation resources, but it is increasingly clear that this approach does not scale with the rapid growth of the biomedical literature. The Gene Wiki utilizes an alternative and complementary model based on the principle of community intelligence. Directly integrated within the online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, the goal of this effort is to build a gene-specific review article for every gene in the human genome, where each article is collaboratively written, continuously updated and community reviewed. Previously, we described the creation of Gene Wiki ‘stubs’ for approximately 9000 human genes. Here, we describe ongoing systematic improvements to these articles to increase their utility. Moreover, we retrospectively examine the community usage and improvement of the Gene Wiki, providing evidence of a critical mass of users and editors. Gene Wiki articles are freely accessible within the Wikipedia web site, and additional links and information are available at Wikipedia.

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