Suggestion: a complete change of the social structure of Foldit
|Opened on:||Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 12:12|
|Last modified:||Tuesday, July 10, 2012 - 20:37|
After much thinking, I have considered it is the time for sharing a few ideas on the game. They are quite extreme, I hope you excuse me for that.
A significant previous point is that I have always played only as a soloist and without using any information from the rest of my team. That is, I provide solutions to the team when they are good enough, but I never look at a solution by other player, until the puzzle is finished.
This has given me a good independent idea of how possible is for a single player to compete with multiple players by using just his creative skills. Playing like that, I think I got to the 4th place among soloist once, and now I am 23rd and improving, after I came back, just for the CASP puzzles. I recently was first in two CASP puzzles, showing that single players can sometimes outperform all the other players, even if the are collaborating.
This is a simple demonstration that teams are not absolutely required. On the contrary, I think they can freeze creativity: within a team, people often just copy what other people is doing. By working independently, I can come up with novel structures that nobody else has seen.
True, I often greatly fail, sometimes ending 50th. That is the problem of playing totally alone. Of course, I agree that collaboration/competence may greatly improve overall results, if properly done.
Now, a second important point i that it would have been impossible for me to play at that level without the sophisticated recipes that I have, many of them group-specific. I recognize the important contribution of some people in my group Go Science, which has been critical. They have come up with great novel recipes that makes us a competitive team right now. However, and most significantly, an important group of my recipes, sad is to recognize that, were stolen from another team about some time ago, in an affair that I am certain is well remembered by many. That robbery certainly helped me, I just could not compete with the top players before it. Terrible, but, in my opinion, another good demonstration that teams do not necessarily help.
With this background, I have concluded that the whole structure of our social network is wrong. It is based on the idea that competence between teams will help to improve the overall results, but I think the complete opposite is true: open collaboration among as many players as possible will improve the results. Right now, this is becoming a competence between just a few top members in a few top teams. These players have great advantage over the rest, based on having the privileged information of group-only recipes.
My experience leads me to think that just a few players (clearly less than 50, perhaps less than 25) have the skills required for systematically coming up with intuitive solutions that are good enough as to lead to the top final results. These top players will certainly not win all puzzles, because some other member may be lucky enough as to sometimes hit the jackpot. Also, skilled but still almost trivial use of the recipes may be enough to win some puzzles, especially if they are small/easy. But even with those exceptions, it is obvious that just a few top players win most often, and most often are among the top soloists. This is because they invent the best solutions.
How often these top players are in a group without the right tools to fully explore the solutions that they come up with is for me the main question unsolved in Foldit. That was my experience when our group, Go Science, started: we just did not have the right programs to compete. Once we got them (in part an illicit affair, as I mentioned above), it was much easier. The same happens now, differences among groups exist that make competition unfair.
I am sorry to say that the best thing to do now to be a top Foldit player may be perhaps something like this: go to several groups, steal all recipes, go then to the top group and copy the best players in that group as much as possible. This will make you a top player, without too much effort and with no creativity. Is this reasonable?.
To solve the problems that I right now see, I suggest the following, which is something that would certainly require a change of mentality, but I am also certain would improve overall results:
1) Completely eliminate groups.
2) Completely eliminate private recipes: everybody has the same tools.
These two make all players equal, increasing competence among players, not groups, and avoiding the problems caused by closed groups. It is clear that it is best if all players have the same tools.
3) Players start each puzzle by competing as soloists.
4) The best solutions for each puzzle (let's say the top ten) generated by the soloists, are accessible to all players at all times.
5) However, if a player gets access to any of those solutions, it ends the soloist period and enters the evolver period. From then on, he/she gets only evolver points, no more soloist improvement is possible. Of course, an evolver can move from one solution to another if it turns out to be better.
6) Last hours of a puzzle: all players automatically shifted to evolvers. Timing for this shift related to puzzle difficulty (or even better: how much improvement has occurred in the previous hours, if that was possible to evaluate).
7) Just as it is now, keep independent classifications for top soloists and top evolvers.
3) to 7) allow all players to try to improve the best solutions at all times. If they are clearly failing as soloist, they can try their hands at evolving the top solutions (not the top solutions of a team, that are often quite bad). Also, soloist are rewarded by INDEPENDENT WORK, not by peeking at the top solution of their group buddies and correcting the solo solution (if you want to do that, you must be an evolver, period). All this should lead to a higher degree of diversity in the solutions generated. Finally 6) leads to all players concentrating in just one or a few top solutions for critical last-hour improvement.
7) Create a new ranking for the tools, so it is known how many times each recipe has been downloaded.
8) Generate a ranking for the people that is programming the recipes, according to how many times their recipes are downloaded. They deserve a lot of the credit for our results, that now they are getting only in part privately, within their groups.
7) and 8) Make the programmers useful for everybody, not just his/her teammates. Also, their skills are recognized, something that I think is no completely done now.
I hope this helps. Best.