Custom Contests

Creating a Custom Contest

  1. Please email us to have your account enabled to create
    and run Custom Contests.
  2. Go to the main Foldit site.
  3. Click the word "Contests" in upper right corner.
  4. Click "Create Custom Contest" in the upper left quadrant of the screen.
  5. The custom contest screen has multiple required entry fields.
    • Fill out the text fields as desired - a custom contest can only be left open for one month. Contests close at 11:59 GMT of the scheduled closing date.
    • Upload puzzle files. The allowed extensions are .pdb or .zip.
      • The .pdb file extension is intended for uploading single biomolecular structure with no ligands. More complicated puzzles, including ligands and custom constraints, should be uploaded as a .zip archive.
      • The .zip archive can contain .pdb structure files, ligand .params files, and .puzzle_setup files to customize the puzzle environment. Any non-standard amino acids, nucleotides or ligands must have accompanying Rosetta .params files. Multiple starting positions can be specified with multiple PDB files that have the naming format structure.0.pdb, with corresponding puzzle setup files. Creating Rosetta .params files requires the Rosetta software package and instructions, which can be accessed at

Managing a Custom Contest

  1. After creation, you will be brought to the homepage for your custom contest. You can click on the link to join your own puzzle, which will allow you to test the puzzle in the Foldit client.
  2. Send the link in the text box to individuals you would like to compete in the contest. They can then choose to join the contest.
  3. Open the Foldit client.
  4. Click the "Contests" tab.
  5. In the contests screen within the client, you will now see in the left panel all contests you have joined. Double click on your newly made custom contest to be brought into the contest.
  6. The contest playing screen is the same as Foldit. The scoreboard reflects the scores of all those who have joined the contest. Note that in a classroom setting, this means that your students will be able to compare their Foldit score to their peers.
  7. After completion of the contest, the contest homepage remains available to the puzzle administrator. The puzzle administrator can then recover the Foldit score of each student for grading.
  8. The top solution by each player can be recovered by the puzzle administrator by going to the puzzle results page. The puzzle administrator can navigate to this page by clicking on the link under "Contest Info" next to the subtitle "Puzzle". At the bottom of the puzzle results page, click the "Download top solutions" link. The resulting .zip file will contain the top scoring solution by each player, with the top scoring structure with the lowest numerical number after the letters "...uid_".

Puzzle Setup Files

Puzzle setup files are used to configure various properties and what a player can do in a puzzle. The basic format is:

version: 1

with key-value pairs placed, one per line, between the braces. Most values are specified as a reslist. A reslist is a list of residue indices, formatted as a residue index, a pipe, a value, and then another pipe; then repeat. Multiple residue indices with the same value can also be formatted with the starting and ending residue index separated with a dash. An example is "2|val1|3|val2|8-10|val3|".

Useful keys

can_design - reslist
can_insert_after - reslist
can_insert_before - reslist
can_delete - reslist
backbone_locked - reslist
sidechain_locked - reslist
jump_locked - reslist
min_actual_length - integer
max_actual_length - integer

Example .puzzle_setup files

Allow design of all residues

version: 1
"can_design" : "1-9999||"

Allow design, insertion, and deletion of all residues

version: 1
"can_design" : "1-9999||"
"can_insert_after" : "1-9999||"
"can_insert_before" : "1-9999||"
"can_delete" : "1-9999||"

Only docking allowed

version: 1
"backbone_locked" : "1-9999||"
"sidechain_locked" : "1-9999||"

No changes allowed

version: 1
"backbone_locked" : "1-9999||"
"sidechain_locked" : "1-9999||"
"jump_locked" : "1-9999||"

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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