Database responsibility

We’ve had some recent discussion at various bioinformatics blogs regarding web frontends to biological databases.  If you know some SQL and CGI, setting up a dynamic database is an easy and fun thing
to do.  Perhaps because it’s so easy, everyone and their dog seems to be doing it.  I’m guilty myself (published) and guilty
again (unpublished)
.

I have a few criteria for a web-based database, particularly if it’s published in a journal:

– it should contain interesting and useful biological information

– it should offer original and user-friendly functionality not found elsewhere

– it should work properly

I know that servers go down and we all have hardware, software and network problems occasionally, but if you publish – your resource should be accessible and functional.

SPdb, a signal peptide database seems to have some teething troubles (500 errors and so on).  I like the concept though – and did
manage to find data for a secreted archaeal protein, something that interests me.  Not clear to me yet if their data is all experimental or includes predictions (in which case, archaea would be
questionable).

RISSC – 16/23S rDNA spacer database is a bad example.  Potentially useful information but so far as I can tell – totally non-functional.  The “Microsoft OLE” errors used to be a giveaway, but now it just does –
nothing.  At all.