Community Rules

Rules for the Foldit Community
Updated 12/22/2020

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.

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


Failing to comply with these 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.

  • Do not use expletives, slurs, or any language that is offensive or discriminatory towards an individuals' race, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, nationality, ethnicity, or culture.
  • Do not harass, threaten (directly or indirectly), embarrass, or do anything else to another user that is unwanted. This means: don't say bad things about them; don't name call; don't attack their character, race, heritage, etc. Do not use misogynistic, misandrous, homophobic remarks, etc. If you disagree with someone, respond to the subject, not the person. Do not make offensive references to a person or group by race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, orientation, age, disability, etc.
  • Do not release personal, real-life information about other members.
  • Do not advertise for commercial purposes. Accounts created for spamming/advertising purposes will be deleted immediately. Advertising for personal purposes is acceptable if it's not excessive.


Please keep in mind that this is not just in regards to in-game chat but also applies to Foldit-sponsored Discord, postings on our website, the community wiki, and social media.

  • Keep the conversation family-friendly since there is a wide range of ages in the community. Anything deemed offensive or obscene will not be tolerated. Do not create an offensive username or nickname.
  • Do not discuss illegal activity (e.g. pirating, drugs etc.) under any circumstances.
  • Do not shout (i.e., TYPING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS).
  • Do not impersonate any other user in chat nor try to hide your identity by pretending to be someone else.
  • Do not spam.
  • Do not transmit or facilitate distribution of content that is harmful, abusive, racially or ethnically offensive, vulgar, sexually explicit, or in a reasonable person's view, objectionable. Community standards may vary, but there is no place in these spaces where hate speech is tolerated.
  • Do not repeat yourself over and over to try to get noticed, as this is disruptive. (Bumping posts without additional content also falls under this category.)
  • Do not be disruptive or belligerent, such as with vulgar language, abusiveness, or trolling. Do not excessively gripe. If you notice a bug or issue in the game, you are encouraged to post helpful feedback in feedback or the forums. The developers won't receive your feedback in the chat.
  • Respect others in all of these spaces.


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

  • Do not use scripts to copy data from other players or external sources.
  • Do not actively use multiple scoring accounts simultaneously.
  • Do not take credit for others' work. This includes copying from actively competiting solutions, such as copying teammates' solutions into your soloist solution. If you want to build on a teammate's solution, do so as an evolver so that they also get credit. If you want to build on another solution, use solutions from expired puzzles. Do not attempt to perfectly reproduce other solutions: this is both cheating and harmful to the scientific goals of Foldit.

This is not a comprehensive list and we reserve the right to take action on a case-by-case basis, as the 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 (except in the most severe cases that require immediate action).

Violations to Our Rules

The Foldit admin team will use the following guidelines when considering how to address violations made by a player. 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.

  • 1st offense - The player will be warned that they have violated our community rules and may be kicked from the chat.
  • 2nd offense - The player will be issued a chat ban for 1-7 days, depending on the severity of the offense.
  • 3rd offense - The player will be issued a 2 week chat ban and will not be able to post on the website during that time. They will still be allowed to play the game.
  • 4th offense - The player will be given a permanent chat ban and will no longer be able to post on the website. They will still be allowed to play the game.
  • 5th offense - The player's account will be deleted.

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.

  • 1st offense - The player will be given a permanent chat ban and will no longer be able to post on the website. They will still be allowed to play the game.
  • 2nd offense - The player's account will be deleted.

Attempting to circumvent chat bans by being disruptive on another IRC account or the Foldit website will be counted as another 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.

However, 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.

These rules do not cover all possible things that can happen in an active community.
Generally speaking, if you avoid being disruptive to other players and if you are polite and helpful to the less experienced members, you are less likely to be removed from chat/collect violation. A little thinking before typing goes a long way.

Got a problem with someone?

People being people, protracted heated arguments (some over relevant tech topics, some not), personality clashes, and other issues arise online just as in real life.

Bear in mind that the moderators will kick people who are disruptive to the chat, but this often will include both or all of the participants in an ongoing fight. From the outside it is often very difficult to see who is the instigator.

If you just can't get along with someone, consider using the "ignore" feature of your chat client (this will also work in game). In most clients you simply have to type:

/ignore nickname-to-be-ignored

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 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.

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Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
Supported by: DARPA, NSF, NIH, HHMI, Amazon, Microsoft, Adobe, Boehringer Ingelheim, RosettaCommons