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Contests are different than the science puzzles in Foldit.

The key differences are that contests:

  • are created by Foldit players (not the Foldit science team)
  • can run for up to 30 days (older contests could run for years)
  • require players to join
  • may involve large proteins
  • don't award global points

Contests are used for variety of purposes:

  • competition for a group of students
  • testing recipes
  • testing new strategies

Creating a contest

There are two types of contest in Foldit: custom and template.

Custom Contests

New in 2019, custom contests allow a contest to be created with any protein. See Custom Contests on the Foldit web site for the basic steps. The details are described in a paper by members of the Foldit team.

Setting up a custom contest requires working with the PDB file format. A knowledge of Rosetta configuration files may also be required for more complex contests.

Template Contests

Template contests are based on existing Foldit puzzles, and are simple to create. No knowledge of file formats is required. There's a fixed list of puzzles that can be used when creating a template contest. Some of these puzzles have specific proteins, with a fixed primary structure and a specific starting pose.

Others are design puzzles, which start as an extended chain. Most of these puzzles have a fixed number of segments or residues, but at least one lets you add or delete segments.

To create a template contest, go to Add Contest on the Foldit web site.

Give the contest a name and a description, and select one of the available puzzles from the list. Finally, pick a start date and an end date for the contest.

Finally, click "Save" to create the contest.

Running a contest

When you have created a contest, you get a link to allow people joining it. You can share the link with others to allow them to join the contest. The contest can also be found on the Contests page on the Foldit web site.

(Previously, contests could be made open to all players. Contests now require an invitation via the "join" link. The join link is not specific to a particular player, so there's always the possibility of it getting shared more widely than intended.)

As the creator, you have control over the contest. This allows you to delete the contest. You can also delete users or groups from your contest. Please use these powers for good. Being able to delete the contest is good if you accidentally select the wrong protein.

When you create a contest, please make it clear in the description if you want only certain players to join. If others do join, you can delete them from the contest if desired. Sending the deleted users a message via the Foldit site would be a nice touch if you do go this route.

Joining a contest

Main menu 1

The puzzle menu showing Contests.

Contests are visible on the Foldit Contest page. You may receive a "join" link via a Foldit private message (PM), email, or other means. You must be logged in to the Foldit website to join a contest.

If you don't have an invitation, you can always request one from the contest owner. Click on the owner's name on the contest page, then use the "Send Message" link to make your request.

After you join a contest, it should appear in the Contests section of the puzzle menu in the Foldit client.

List of template contest puzzles

For a template contest, you can select one of the following puzzles:

Protein Description
Freestyle Design: Variable Length This freestyle puzzle has mutable residues and allows you to add or delete residues, with a maximum of 100 residues.
Freestyle Design 20 A 20 segment designable extended chain.
Freestyle Design 40 A 40 segment designable extended chain.
Freestyle Design 80 An 80 segment designable extended chain.
Freestyle Design 100 A 100 segment designable extended chain.
Freestyle Design 150 A 150 segment designable extended chain.
Freestyle Design 200 A 200 segment designable extended chain.
Freestyle Design 500 An 500 segment designable extended chain.
Freestyle Symmetric Design: 40 Dimer Two symmetric chains, 40 designable segments.
Freestyle Symmetric Design: 40 Trimer Three symmetric chains, 40 designable segments.
Freestyle Symmetric Design: 80 Dimer Two symmetric chains, 80 designable segments.
Freestyle Symmetric Design: 80 Trimer Three symmetric chains, 80 designable segments.
HIV protease HIV replication depends on HIV protease, a protein-cleaving enzyme which is the target for protease-inhibitor drugs.
GTPase Ras The conformational change occurring in the small GTPase Ras is extremely important for the molecular basis of many cancers. The GTP-bound conformation of this protein should be in an ON state, signaling cell growth. Can you help it find this native fold?
Seal Myoglobin This multistart puzzle has 8 different server models. See seal myoglobin for details. The protein appears to come from Ruminococcus gnavus, a bacterium, and not a seal.
Contest Template Test A test contest with 166 residues.
Multi-Start Bacteroides Vulgatus Contest Here are 5 server models. Resetting the puzzle will cycle through these 5 Zhang server predictions. They are also in the Alignment Tool so you can use partial threading as well as an extended chain.
Server models for T0743 Contest Here are 8 server predictions for this CASP10 target whose native still hasn't been released. Resetting the puzzle will cycle through 8 different server predictions and they are available in the Alignment Tool so you can use partial threading between them.
Frizzled Design Puzzle Contest The Frizzled protein occurs in a number of forms. We are giving you a form of Frizzled with a wide pocket. There are a couple of rules: You can mutate any residue on the helix but none on Frizzled and the small binding helix must stay in helical shape.
Nanog Transcription Factor Introduction of Nanog into skin cells can help convert or 'reprogram' them into a state that is more stem cell-like. Solving this protein structure will help us design drugs that can activate Nanog and its binding partners as a strategy for patient-specific tissue regeneration. Resetting the puzzle will cycle through 5 Zhang server predictions that are also in the Alignment Tool so you can use partial threading.
Abeta Binder Piecewise Design This is a different type of design puzzle from those you are most familiar with. Instead of designing a single long chain, here you can design a set of short peptides as disjointed sections of a larger protein—we don't want you to worry about designing connections between the short chains in this puzzle. See the new blog post about this for more information. The Abeta protein backbone is frozen in this puzzle, but there are eight short chains that you can completely redesign. This puzzle also includes a Residue IE filter, which monitors that all PHE, TYR, and TRP residues are scoring well.
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