Users of the highy popular OMIM database (On-Line Mendelian Inheritance in Human)  may have noticed that NCBI  is not providing further funds to sustain OMIM’s development. One of the reasons for halting the funding may have to do with curation work not deemed worthy of funds. Funding agencies might have thus started a trend to not willing to dedicate funds for curation of database entries.
The flip side of this is the nascent trend to outsource database annotation to the general public. Databases like Rfam  or Pfam , two popular RNA and protein family databases, have adopted the strategy of outsourcing their annotation to Wikipedia. Realizing that it is impossible to keep up with the literature, an attempt was made by Rfam to seed Wikipedia with database-specific information. They then developed a system to collect Wikipedia text from created entries periodically to repopulate back the corresponding RNA entry. The price they had to pay was losing control on what gets entered into the Wikipedia entry. However, benefits seem to outstrip this loss of control, including ready access to an army of casual annotators and a dramatically increased exposure of the database itself (Wikipedia consistently ranks top of the list for most RNA family searches in Google). This means that their chances of having up-to-date content is increased, as well as better awareness of the resource, justifying future cycles of funding.
Something that started as an experiment in Rfam seems to be spreading to other databases as they begin to assess how to address their annotation bottleneck. It seems that outsourcing annotation of Biomedical databases to Wikipedia is a solution worth considering as curation practices continue evolving to cope with current fund shortages. Generalized lack of funding for research and the establishment of community wiki-style annotation practices may mean that funding agencies may be ever more reluctant to provide funding for database curation. Perhaps this is the time to start rethinking future plans for those of us who care about biological databases and their contents. Is now the time ripe for embracing Wikipedia to the full?