Rules for the Foldit Community

Updated 7/22/2022

We want the Foldit community to be a pleasant and safe place for all members. To ensure this, please follow these simple rules as you play Foldit and interact with other community members on the chat, forums, feedbacks, and other areas of the website.

These rules may not be comprehensive and we reserve the right to take action on a case-by-case basis, as the Foldit team sees fit. Please keep in mind, no permanent action will be taken on the whim of a single admin but will, in fact, be the result of discussion by the entire admin team.

Our community manager is @agcohn821. Please send them a direct message for all questions and concerns regarding the community.


Zero Tolerance Rules
Community Rules
Game Rules
Violating the Rules
General Guidelines
Gameplay Guidelines

Zero Tolerance Rules

Violating our Zero Tolerance Rules may result in an immediate and permanent ban. These rules extend everywhere on the internet to the extent that they affect our community. (E.g., harassing a Foldit community member in another online space can result in a ban from Foldit.)

Community Rules

Community rules apply to Foldit chat, Foldit-sponsored Discord, postings on our website, the community wiki, and social media.

Game Rules

For more detail on these rules, check the Gameplay Guidelines? section below. These rules extend everywhere on the internet: if you are caught cheating, you may be banned from further competitions.

Violating the Rules

The Foldit admin team will use the following guidelines when considering how to address rule violations. These guidelines for admins are put in place to protect players from unjust actions.

Minor Offenses

Minor offenses may be forgiven after a period of good behavior.

Major Offenses

Breaking our zero-tolerance policy rules will result in an immediate and permanent ban in order to ensure the safety of our community.

Attempting to circumvent chat bans by being disruptive on another IRC account or the Foldit website will be counted as an additional offense. Foldit mods (veteran players that have been granted chat moderator status) retain the right to kick/temporarily ban players who violate these rules. These instances will be reported to the Foldit admin team, who will evaluate the offense and take appropriate action.

Depending on the severity of the offense, we may deem it necessary to escalate a player’s violation status, and in some cases, immediately ban a player from the game without warning.

General Guidelines

Foldit is truly a global game, where everyone has something to offer. As you play, please remember that some subjects are more sensitive than others. When you use chat or Discord and/or post on the website, respect your fellow folders, and let common sense be your guide. If you veer off course (and it can happen) the moderators will step in and guide you, but only if you make them do so. Allow the moderators to help keep the community a welcoming place for everyone. Rather than correcting behavior, it is always better to ignore people who bother you and inform a moderator if someone is being disruptive.

If you have an issue with a moderator, please send a direct message to @agcohn821 with necessary details (time, date, quotes) and it will be investigated accordingly. All decisions are final.

Please be aware that we may not be able to answer your questions right away. Please avoid posting your question or screenshots multiple times.

…and the most important (and simplest) rule: Use common sense and don't be a jerk.

Got a problem with someone?

People being people, protracted heated arguments (some over relevant tech topics, some not), personality clashes, and other issues are bound to occur.

If you just can't get along with someone in chat, consider using the "ignore" IRC feature. In the chat window, you can type the following command to hide all messages from a player with the username "ObnoxiousTroll":
/ignore ObnoxiousTroll

Gameplay Guidelines

What is cheating?

Any automated method of copying data from other players or external sources in order to increase your solo score is cheating. If you'd like to collaborate or expand upon another person's work, you must do so as an evolver. Cheating circumvents the intention of Foldit and jeopardizes its scientific goals.

What about primary or secondary structures?

Yes, you may copy or attempt to reproduce primary and secondary structures. In addition, you may copy sequences inside a design puzzle.

From the Foldit wiki:

The Primary Structure of a protein is the sequence of amino acids that make up the protein. The primary structure is also called the primary sequence, amino acid sequence or AA sequence.
Secondary Structure refers to the three-dimensional, local shapes that serve as building blocks for all proteins. These are alpha-helices (spirals) and beta-sheets (ribbons). They come in different sizes, but the essential shapes are the same. Every protein will have at least one of these structures, and usually several. Secondary structures serve principally to stabilize the core of the protein. The secondary structures are stabilized by hydrogen bonds.

What about tertiary or quaternary structures?

Directly copying tertiary and/or quaternary structures from other players or third parties is forbidden. You may view other players' tertiary and quaternary structures for inspiration, but please attempt to make your own structures. Direct copying is both harmful for science and robs the other player(s) of their credit to the protein's design. Capturing precise location or angle data from other solutions is cheating and can result in an immediate and permanent ban from Foldit competitions.

From the Foldit wiki:

Tertiary Structure refers to the 3D conformation of the fully folded protein in its entirety. Usually this means the same thing as the protein’s native structure. The tertiary structure is stabilized by hydrogen bonds, salt bridges and disulfide bonds, and also by formation of a hydrophobic core.
Quaternary Structure. Some proteins are made up of multiple, separate proteins (called "subunits") that join together in order to be functional. Hemoglobin, for example, is made up of four subunits arranged in a certain way. Quaternary structure refers to the particular arrangement of protein subunits.
Since most Foldit puzzles consist of proteins that contain only a single subunit, quaternary structures are generally not relevant in most cases. However, quaternary structures can be found in symmetry puzzles, which feature proteins that contain multiple identical subunits.

Is it ok to attempt to reproduce another person’s structure visually?

Learning from other players and sharing strategies is acceptable and encouraged. However, remember that diversity helps Foldit's scientific goals and stealing credit from other players is cheating. Please keep this is mind as you collaborate with others. To stay within the bounds of these rules, do not copy from any solutions which are actively engaged in a competition.

What about for educational purposes?

Our rules for cheating do not apply outside of our competitions. As long as you are in a non-scoring puzzle (an expired puzzle, a sandbox puzzle that is worth 0 points, etc.) you may copy in any way you see fit. However, if you are copying from another player, it is good social etiquette to tell them you are doing this.