New Community Liaison

Hello, Foldit Community! My name is Saira Mortier (smortier) and I am the new Community Liaison. I am extraordinarily thrilled to be stepping into this role and am looking forward to learning about you, your motivations, and your biggest beefs.

A bit about me:
I'm a former educator, having taught K-12 for seven years and three at the university level. More recently, I've done curriculum development and UX research. I am a huge science enthusiast. Apparently, my (almost) two-year old daughter is as well, because this weekend when she saw a protein dancing around in Foldit, she exclaimed "ohh, wow-wee!". I adore gaming of all varieties (video-gaming, card-gaming, board-gaming, you name it) and enjoy flexing my creative muscles whenever I can get away with it.

Enough about me, though. I'd like to hear about you! Tell me a bit about yourselves (feel free to private message me if you don't want to post here). Why do you play Foldit? How long have you been playing? What do you like about it? What do you dislike or think could be improved?

Please feel free to drop me a line any time you've got a question or concern. I will do my very best to address everything in a thorough and timely manner.

Looking forward to learning more about all of you and this community!



(Tue, 05/23/2017 - 22:03  |  5 comments)
LociOiling's picture
User offline. Last seen 43 min 58 sec ago. Offline
Joined: 12/27/2012
Groups: Beta Folders
Welcome aboard!

Thanks for getting the scoreboards going again over the weekend. Even veteran folders can be fooled when they stop updating.

As far as what can be improved, there's been some talk lately (mainly in the #veteran chat channel) about making a good first impression. There are a few relatively easy steps in that area.

Before she left, inkycatz published a new post Get Started Playing Foldit in the forum. The "Are you new to Foldit" link on the main page could be updated to point to that post. Also, the beginner puzzles contain a link to the same post, and this could be updated as they expire. (There are six beginner puzzles, one expires each week and is immediately reissued.)

Also in the forum, there's a sticky "Update News" thread which hasn't been updated since 2014. It seems like release notes like these are a thing of the past, so it's probably time to un-sticky it.

(There's also a "Do you believe in the past life?" post in the forum that should be deleted.)

Just in general, keeping a eye on the forum and the #veteran channel is a good thing. Opening a puzzle from time to time and making sure that the scoreboards are working would also be helpful.

The technical issues are the harder part. The switch to Amazon Web Services last year seems to have eliminated a lot of network-related problems, and there have been some recent fixes, such as a new installer for Mac, which have helped make the Foldit client more reliable. In my experience, client crashes are much rarer now than previously, but they still happen from time to time.

Some bugs are in the client itself, but others are in the puzzles. The recent drug design puzzle in the "devprev" update group wouldn't open. Puzzle 1378 was clearly wrong from the start; it would have been impossible to get a positive score. It was reissued as puzzle 1378b, but even then, the rebuild and remix tools weren't working. Issues like these tend to be a little discouraging for old and new players alike. Often just a quick check like opening a puzzle would reveal fatal flaws. There have been a lot of "b" puzzles that could have been avoided this way.

The feedback area is used for problems and suggestions. The problem there is that we don't get much feedback to our feedback. It's now rare for the Foldit team to comment on a feedback. It would be helpful to get an update when a problem is believed to be fixed. It would also be nice to have some sort of issue triage and tracking. It might be a simple as a top 10 list of what development is working on at the moment.

While response to feedback has lagged, there have been some more recent positive developments on the communications side. The Foldit team now seems to be a lot better on issuing news items to report things like a new release or a system or puzzle problem. The news items appear both on the Foldit front page and when a Foldit client starts. Once in a while, jflat06 joins #veteran and lets us know what's going on. The recent blog posts about design puzzle results seem to have supplied some added motivation on that front.

(There was also a missed opportunity last week, when the Foldit entry in the NSF's STEM 2017 video competition didn't get mentioned until Susume posted it in #veteran.)

I've been folding for a over four years now, and at times, the future of Foldit has seemed a little doubtful. There do seem to be some flickers of life from time to time, so I'm remaining guardedly optimistic.

gitwut's picture
User offline. Last seen 1 week 17 hours ago. Offline
Joined: 05/18/2012
Groups: Contenders
What Loci said . . .

LociOiling covered most of the usual topics. Thanks!

However, I would particularly like to stress the points made about buggy clients, scoreboards and puzzles. I've been playing nearly every puzzle since I joined (05/18/12), but frankly, I've gotten to the point where I doubt that I'll continue to play regularly anymore. Frustration has reached the point to where it just isn't worth having to compensate (time and effort) for the poor state of the client, filters and puzzles. The filters have finally gotten to the point where scripts that have historically performed well no longer compensate correctly for fluctuations caused by filter violations.

In the past six months (or more) my client scoreboards have rarely reflected the correct scores or rankings. Multiple clients running the same puzzle showed different rankings, scores and rarely agreed with the web site scoreboards. A month or so ago I completely uninstalled and reinstalled Foldit. Amazingly, my scoreboards appeared to work correctly for a brief period. That lasted until I belatedly updated to the most recent version of main. The scoreboards broke again and are behaving the same way as they have in the past. Uninstalling and reinstalling has not helped.

More care should be given to vetting updates to the client before they're released to main. There is too much of a rush to get updates out so that new "features" or types of puzzles can be added. The same is true for releasing puzzles that make use of the latest changes.

I used to report problems in feedback fairly often but after having rarely received timely, meaningful feedback or resolutions, I don't bother anymore except to report when scoreboards on the web site aren't updating.

Foldit has always had a wonderful player community but like LociOiling, I have doubts about its future.

smortier's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 days 37 min ago. Offline
Joined: 03/10/2016
Groups: None
I agree.

Buggy clients, scoreboards, and puzzles must be extraordinarily frustrating and I will see what we can do to fix these issues. I think you're right and that we could benefit greatly from a more thorough vetting process to avoid things like this.

I will be discussing these issues (and the ones brought up by LociOiling) with the team soon. I *will* get back to the community with the results of these discussions. Thank you very, very much for your input. I cannot tell you how valuable this perspective is.

smortier's picture
User offline. Last seen 6 days 37 min ago. Offline
Joined: 03/10/2016
Groups: None
Thank you!

Thank you so much for the very useful feedback. There are some quick fixes I hope to get to ASAP (as soon as I learn the ropes) and some obviously larger ones that I will address with the development team. Once I do address these issues with the team, rest assured I will update the community with the results of these conversations. I will be doing my best to foster a more communicative environment (as I become familiar with it).

Thank you, again. I would be spinning my wheels without guidance from expert players. I appreciate you taking the time and giving me a direction to head.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science
Hello from Belgium

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Developed by: UW Center for Game Science, UW Institute for Protein Design, Northeastern University, Vanderbilt University Meiler Lab, UC Davis
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