Collective editing of biological pathways

Following on the successful model of wikipedia a previously centrally managed biological pathways curation activity (e.g. genmapp) has now gone fully community based in the wikipathways project. This is an ambitious project at many levels. The least of the challenges is the technical, how to allow group editing of a connectivity graph? This has been implemented, quite successfully at first glance, by using a Java applet (i.e. called from within the browser). The greatest challenge will be of course a) getting a critical mass of annotators and b) getting collegiality among these collaborators without allow the religious wars that tend to break out over the smallest of disagreements of the appropriate way to represent knowledge. With regard to the former, I note that there already appears to be a community forming around the annotation of apoptosis pathways but when I searched for POMC, nothing was returned although I could find some of the receptors related to that peptide here.

So, it's up to us to make it successful or not. We'll see if the organizers of this resource have found the sweet spot for such a collaborative effort. Here's hoping they have.

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