"Random" evolver mode that even soloists can play

Case number:671071-993167
Topic:Game: Other
Opened by:jeff101
Opened on:Monday, July 16, 2012 - 18:15
Last modified:Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - 01:58

I would like to suggest an evolver mode in Foldit puzzles that even players not in groups can do.
It could work as follows:

In the saved structures menu, there could be an option called "random" that would let the Foldit site
pick an initial structure at random based on all the structures all players have explored so far.
The Foldit site could pick these structures from parts of the parameter space that need more exploration.
If the user can improve enough on the given initial structure, the user gets on the evolver score board.

I suppose if the user doesn't like the given initial structure,
the user can click on "random" again until a suitable initial structure is chosen.
Perhaps Foldit could limit the initial structures to ones below a certain score level
so that a lucky user won't get dealt the best-scoring structure so far using the "random" button.

(Mon, 07/16/2012 - 18:15  |  41 comments)

Joined: 06/17/2010

Something like random all-hands? +1 from me :D

Joined: 08/24/2011
Groups: Go Science

Sounds like a neat idea. I'll second that.

Joined: 05/19/2009
Groups: Contenders

Creators of the original models should be able to opt-in to share each solution of each puzzle individually. If not opted in their solutions should not be shared. Basically this would be 'share with world', as in 'share with only myself' or 'group'.

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I like the opt-in (share structures) or opt-out (don't share structures) idea.
There could be several modes for it:

(1) Opt-out for the present puzzle (default).
(2) Opt-in the next series of structures for this puzzle until further notice.
(3) Opt-out the next series of structures for this puzzle until further notice.
(4) Opt-in all structures so far for this puzzle.
(5) Opt-out all structure so far for this puzzle.

(1)-(5) above could even be combined with a score cutoff (6) to further restrict what is shared:

(6) Opt-in for scores below and opt-out for scores above a certain user-set number.

If the sharing status of a structure changes, it will only affect what structures
users have access to when they press the "random" button in the future.
It won't suddenly pull the rug out from under someone who has already found a way
to evolve a previously-shared structure.

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Another idea is that when the "random" button presents a shared structure, it doesn't say where the structure came from. It could have come from the best Foldit player or the worst Foldit player. This way a player can't just keep hitting the "random" button until a structure shared by one of the best Foldit players or groups appears. It will be more like buying things at a flea market. The player will have to be more discerning in what he/she chooses to evolve.

The "random" button could also sometimes present truly random structures that weren't shared by anyone. The "random" button could also sometimes tweak, mix together, or slightly scramble structures that people shared as a way to get more diversity of structures.

Hopefully the "random" button would filter the shared structures enough so as to offer ones in scoring ranges that would appeal to users but still be a challenge to evolve.

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Another idea for the "random" button is that the structures it deals out for a particular puzzle could depend on structure scores a particular user already has access to. Moreover, the higher the score a user has already earned on their own or has access to via shared Group structures, the higher the score the "random" button is allowed to deal out to them.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

Their would be a (default) "Public Domain Team" which would be the default temporary team of all players in this situation . I suppose that it would be a little bit discouraging for existing teams, but may be also chalenging, because this Public team would quickly be the first !

Now, what happens if player of a team decides to take a puzzle from this Public team? He/she would be in 2 teams? Yes exceptionally. The player could be ranked 2 times in Evolver for this puzzle. One time with a label of his team, one time with the label "Public team" (or no label), competing against himself (like he does between soloist and evolver). If you do not implement this, there will be a strong incentive to abandon existing teams to go public !

To be fair with existing teams, the following would caracterize this public team:
-all remains on public domain (no "Group" chat, only Puzzle chat and Chat Global)
-the team evolver solutions are not available to go public (only soloïst solutions can be used, only one shot, no evolution on public evolver solution)

For science, it would be better not to use "random" neither to limit to smallest scores, but on the contrary to let the soloists to start from top scores of all other soloists). Then there is a chance for Foldit to find THE solution of a molecule.

It would then be fair to add something somewhere saying "Starting from XXX solution from soloist player XXX".

Finally, it would be fair for soloist top players to let them decide if they agree or not to share their solution to this public domain. Add then the possibility to share a solution to Public (not only group or myself)

Joined: 11/05/2010
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I like especially the first part of your ideas Jeff, not quite sure about the rest, but am wondering if the contributors/soloists who makes the initial offerings that ends up getting the highest set of scores would end up being compensated in some small fashion?

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If you can think of incentives to get players to share their structures to make this "random" evolver mode possible, please post them. I'd imagine some players will share their structures even without such an incentive.

Perhaps the Foldit site can keep track of the history of each shared structure and then award points to the original sharer based on what other players accomplish with the shared structure. This could all be done anonymously so the sharer doesn't know who evolved the shared structure, and the evolvers don't know who the original sharer was.

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How does this sound?

The first few times, you can evolve other players' shared solutions for free, but after that, you have to share your own solutions to get access to other players' shared solutions. The better solutions you share, the better solutions shared by others that you can access to evolve.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

What about (anybody creating) an open group called "Public Domain Shares", where the soloists who want can share their solutions, then leave the group in order to continue as soloist.

Other soloists can join the group if they want, evolve the shared solutions then leave.

The group would always remain open so that anybody can join and leave in a minute.

Beginners could try to evolve there and even get points as evolvers. If there is nothing to evolve, just send a PM to a player you know and ask him/she to share something. Could be useful for masters to show thinks to beginners.

The chat would not be useful, because nobody would stay there for long. Global chat is enough.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

This is currently unpractical unless Foldit team creates a group themselves with these special rules.

Actually, if someone shares a solo coming from outside to a group, this solution cannot be evolved, being the property of "another group".

The only way for soloists now if they want to experiment evolving is to join any active open group, try to evolve something there, then go out.

Another solution would be someone to create a "Only Beginners" group, and invite there the new beginners, with specific rules asking the people to leave (or ban?) if there are no beginner any more? But the problem would be that no experimented players could go there and help? Or "Global Group" in line with the Global Chat ?

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

No, may be I'm wrong.

Definition:a solution starts with the first design or "reset puzzle" action, and never ends.

I think that the "copyrights" of the solutions are as follows:

1-soloist always keeps the property on his/her design, as a soloist with or without group (he might go in and out of any group, he/she never looses this property). Designs are always sticked to their original author.

2-if a soloist joins a group A, all his/her solutions fall also automatically and definitively (for the live of this puzzle solution) into the property of this group. This is true even if he/she did not share his/her solution to the group. That means that it is impossible to take a solution from a group and evolve it in another group. If a soloist starts a new solution when being in a group, this solution remains the property of this group (and himself): he/her can continue as pure soloist, but this solution can never be loaded by another group.


The proposal is feasible without involving dev. What we need is some of us creating a clone (who might never play) in order to create the group (a member of a group cannot create a group. A soloist creating a group stays member of this group forever ...).

Only soloists will be able to share a loadable solution to this "public" group. Then, any temporary member of the group will be able to evolve it, even getting points as evolver. When leaving the group, a player will keep a copy of the solution loaded, but none of its evolution would be credited. Note that shared solutions can also be used as a guide for soloist solutions.

Note: my clone created such an "empty" group for soloists here (Soloists Virtual Group, but the purpose is different (no evolution are expected). Soloists and members of open groups might use this group to test the feasability of current proposal (do not evolve anything in this group please). The Public group might be created by another clone (I don't have more e-mail adress to create this) with the rules defined here.

Joined: 09/21/2011

When you say "soloist", I assume that you mean any regular folder that is not working on an evo. I think it would be better to limit these types of shares to folders who do not belong to a group. Otherwise you will have too many conflicts of interest. The number of clusters would also be reduced (a bad thing) if soloists from other groups participated in these shares. It also makes it easier to set up the "Public Evo" because the public players can just join that "group". They would just need access to Public Evo to be very easy, so that it doesn't feel like they are joining a group. The group scripts and group chat might need to be shut off too.

It would be best if devs set this up.

The players who make it into vet chat earn a new tool! Share With Public!
Wohoo, they can now download public shares to evo, and they can share there own solutions! Yay!

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

Indeed. The goal is to give pure soloists not belonging to a group the opportunity to experience evolution, or even the opportunity to players of low ranking teams to experience high evolution. jeffs's initial proposal starts from the fact that there is quite some inequity in the present evolvers system (To be an evolver, you must join a team. To be a top evolver, better you join a top team !).

Following your suggestions, I see 2 types of "services":

1-OR a group for all beginners who want to share their solution with any other player, in order to learn (arrangement can be made in global)
2-OR (another) group for top soloists and evolvers who want further improving a top soloist solution at end game.

Both group have the same kind of rule based on freedom, openness, neutrality (the administrator should be a non playing, non logging in, clone), self-discipline to leave the group asap etc.

I do not see any problem with group 1. Like there exists a global chat, this would be a global group.

For group 2, I do not see more risk of reducing the number of clusters than in current life with open group and public recipes. Group 2 could reduce the inequity mentioned above:Any pure soloist or any player from low ranking team can get some high evolvers experience visiting this group for a short period. But group 2 has a high potential of becoming top group if many top players share there. Would it endanger the concept of closed top teams (and "closed" lonesome soloists)?


The sudden appearing of Soloists virtual group in top ranking for several puzzles like 880 suggests that this idea might be feasible without new dev. I found this appearing very funny (thanks johnmitch ! A new difficulty for the real teams, because the sum of best soloists has a high potential I think. The Soloists virtual group concept does not endanger the cluster problematic, but it does not solve our current question. A similar group "with share allowed" is thus needed, and feasible.

Knowing that no share can be transported from one group to the other, I think the current system is safe enough in order to avoid diminishing the desirable number of clusters.

Joined: 09/21/2011

No share being transported from one group to another is the key. This means no protein can be seen by folders from other groups because the top folders can rebuild another protein by hand just by getting a single look at the protein. As long as this doesn't happen, then yes, I agree with you. I like the soloists virtual group btw.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

That remains a problem then. In current system, if I come from one group to another, I can see a share, load it from group 1, take pictures, leave the group, join group 2. There, it's impossible to share this solution. But I could show pictures to team members or use it myself as a guide (I think, not sure) for a new reset. This would be cheating. The only way to avoid it would be to recalling the Foldit Community rules:

-Any method of copying data from other players or external sources in order to increase your solo score is cheating
-Copying tertiary and/or quaternary structures from other players or third parties is forbidden.

Since this group would be characterized by (many) free and anonymous migrations (like potentially any open group actually), the following sentence could be added to the group rules:

"Conform to Foldit Community rules, no solution found in this group might be reproduced anywhere else by any means. In order to avoid cheating, delete all your shares before leaving the group".

Joined: 03/18/2014
Groups: Gargleblasters

So long as this is only grabbing peoples older folds, a certain percentage below their present credit score, and only folds below the top 20 ranks. than this sounds like a good thing.

Obviously this league should be completely seperate to the existing soloist/evolver, the "randomist" or "explorer" board or whatnot.

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I would like to suggest another Evolver alternative.

Make it possible for a player to participate in their Group evolver process without paying the Soloist penalty of getting 0 or 1 point for simply opening the puzzle to get to the evolver solutions.

Those of us with older or slower machines cannot always spend the time to work up an acceptable solo solution before switching over to Evolver mode to help the Group work up the team solution.

This would take the form of opening a puzzle in either Evolver or Soloist mode the first time a player opens the puzzle. If the puzzle is not opened in Soloist mode, it shopuld not be included in the puzzles used to determine solo rankings.

Joined: 04/19/2009


Considering how hectic CASP will be, and that many players can run fewer clients than before NC, this would be a great idea for team players to be able to make a contribution even if they won't have the time to do a solo on a puzzle.

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This should probably have been in a separate feedback, but I was in a hurry when I posted it.

Thanks for the +1 vote !

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

I fully agree with this suggestion (may be it should be repeated elsewhere)

Joined: 09/21/2011

I am strongly in favor of Bruno's "public domain" share idea. I wonder if there is a way for us to set that up without waiting for devs? Also could work for the obsolete "buddies" feature. Anyone not in a group could form a group of buddies to share proteins with to evo.

Joined: 09/19/2011
Groups: Beta Folders

We already have a method of sharing. If a soloist wants to evo he/she can join or create a group. There is no need for a ghost group for people to hop in and out of. It's an obscene gaming of the current group system and undermines it.

Bruno... you should only be in one group. Your clone shouldn't have another group. But, with your group hopping you don't seem to have any concept of team loyalty. I believe your intentions are good, but, the result is divisive.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

There are 2 different discussions here.

The group for sharing and evolving is under discussion, not created yet before more advices. Moreover, I will not create it myself.

The Soloist Virtual Group has a completely other meaning. No sharing are there allowed in the group rules. it's only a reference point for scoring, without any contact between players unless via global chats or PMs.

I'm personally only in one group and I strictly respect the agreements made before to join any group (closed or open), and this for the long term (for example, never sharing recipes from other authors to new groups without their agreement).

I used a not playing clone only to be able to create the Virtual Group. I don't connect with this clone, and there is nothing to share, to load or to use in this virtual group. As a player, I'm not able to join the Virtual group, because I'm already member of another group.

Joined: 09/21/2011

"The players who make it into vet chat earn a new tool! Share With Public!
Wohoo, they can now download public shares to evo, and they can share there own solutions! Yay!"

I'm quoting myself. How sad.

The trick would be keeping the share with public tool limited to non-group folders, but also out of the hands of newbs.

Joined: 04/19/2009

While the current ideas in this feedback are more sophisticated than many of the ones in the past, this still is reminiscent of the "All Hands" puzzles of long ago. The reason those were removed is that players tended to focus on only one solution and beat it to death.

To convince the devs to set up something like what is being proposed, it's necessary to counter that reality with some safeguards and possible learning experiences that might offset what had happened before.

Joined: 08/24/2011

that's an easy one: if a player doesn't evolve a said number of different solutions, he gains nothing. a solution and all of its evolved forms counting for only one solution.

Joined: 09/21/2011

from my perspective, its more about adding 1 more group that is a default for the people who aren't in other groups. the only difference is that the people in this group don't feel like they are in a group. they don't use group chat or make group scripts or have a team name. so, essentially their evoes would look like any other group's evo i'd imagine.

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I can understand this idea....but I also shake my head a little.

The existing game layout seems workable to me. I'm more interested in the immediate target - CASP.

It seems to me that players are looking for something that is not currently there - and this disappoints me.

Looking at what we currently have - I would like to see properly operational group (and global) forums. New ways of playing aside...This may prove to be a more important weapon, that can be easily delivered, for our immediate task.

Change in evo play needs careful consideration - it will affect group play and competition. Is this really the time?

Joined: 09/19/2011
Groups: Beta Folders

You are correct that this change in play will effect group play. I'm for the closing of the soloists virtual group. We don't need a ghost group that will eventually have number one score consistently if the idea takes off. Might as well kill off all group play and have only soloists evo'ing each others.

The idea isn't workable unless you want to kill current group system in the long run.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

I'll close the Virtual Group if the community decides so.

For the time being, it's an experiment. I'm in favour of keeping it alive sufficient time to be able to evaluate it. Personally, I find it challenging for my own group, and also interesting to see if a sum of individuals can compete with teams (I believe that real teams are potentially stronger than a sum of individuals).

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Your virtual group is screwing with the group scores and rankings.

Having a group made up of players from other groups or soloists who drop in and out constantly is disruptive and against the spirit of group play and competition.

I strongly suggest that this be stopped immediately, and the group be disbanded and all points deleted.

Joined: 09/19/2011
Groups: Beta Folders

Bruno... you were a valuable team member when in our group. I'm sure all of the groups you've been in miss you. I'd never have come out publicly against this idea without talking to quite a few players about it privately. A few in my own group and others in several other groups. No one likes the idea of having lost group rank points in several puzzles due to your experiment.

auntdeens group is the only one that hasn't lost group rank points due to this experiment.

Thank you for removing the solo ghost group and good luck in your folding.

Joined: 08/24/2011

every little bit of fun we can get back is *really* worth it.

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Would someone please remind us how the group scores are derived please?
I did look on the wiki but it doesn't say much beyond stating that groups can get better scores by evolving.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

As far as I remember, group scores are calculated following this formula:

Points = Max(1, RoundUp( ( 1 - (Rank - 1)/(NumGroups - 1) )^5 * X))

This formula gives the number of points that each group will earn at the end of a puzzle, based on their rank when the puzzle closes. These rank points are distinct from and not directly related to Score points.

The link with the current topic:

-Any additional group (either "groups for sharing" or the controversial Soloists Virtual Group) will help top groups (rank 2 to n) to get relatively more points. At the limit, if there are as many groups as players, rank 1 will get 100, 2 will get 99 etc. If there are only 2 groups, rank 1 gets 100 pts, rank 2 gets 0.

-A potential "top group" (like Soloists Virtual Group, or any ad hoc group created by conjunctural top soloists) will have 2 potential effects on the overall group ranking. If it's n°1, no change in the ranking of the regular groups. If it's n°2 to n-1, it will discriminate the groups ranked before or after. The discrimination will be bigger if there are few groups in the competition.

Exemple for puzzle 882: Soloist virtual group was n°6 with a maximal cost for n°7, L'alliance Francophone (with a loss of 8 pts). All other groups after l'Alliance Francophone loose less than 8 pts.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

I notice the strong opposition of several top group members, even asking for an urgent closing of the Soloists virtual group. Of course, I can personally close this group immediately, following an emerging rule that no (even not playing) clone should be allowed to created a group.

But this would not solve the potential of any other player creating such a group (even staying there as an administrator). That means that no pure soloist can create a group (if you create a group, you are obliged to be member of this group, otherwise, the group disappears). No group as the Soloist virtual group might appear. The only means for soloists to experiment evolving or even temporarily compete with groups is to join a group or to create a new group. My experience with the Soloist virtual group (aiming on experimenting the power of a sum of soloists against organized groups) becomes prohibited. A freedom opportunity is closed. May be for the good of the game? The main idea beeing that ad hoc groups "for pure soloists" endanger the social structure of the game.

Before to close the Soloist virtual group (AND let any player re-creating a similar group !), I would like to know the opinion of other players (also soloists or members of low ranking groups) on the following questions. Please do not answer the question unless you have read the Soloist virtual group rules here(it's a group without sharing).

The questions:

1) Should there be restrictions in the creation of groups? (to be whriten in the overall Foldit rules), for example "No group should be created by non playing clones? Clones are only admitted for IRC chat purposes"(even if existing anti-cheating rules are respected).

2) Should there be overall rules against the creation of groups aimed to help soloists go in and go out in order to experiment what they want.

3) or "No group should be created that could be perceived as an anti-groups group. Players have the choice to be pure soloists or pure members of a group, not both."

4) additionally "Members of a group are morally obliged to a minimum share and chat in this group. Groups are no list of pure soloists and should be deleted if the team spirit disappears".

My personal answer ot the 4 questions are:
1) I don't know (waiting for more arguments)
2) No
3) No
4) No

Joined: 04/19/2009

I am really perplexed, and see no benefit at all to a 'Virtual Soloists Group", but do see potential negatives.

The original concept of a group was for the ability of other players to be able to take someone else's solution and improve it. This has worked more or less well for years. What did not work, from the developer's point of view, was the "All Hands" puzzles, when solo scores were shared with all players (all that happened was that the highest solo score got beat to death).

We already have a reward system in place for soloists who choose not to belong to a group - the global Soloist rankings. I know, no matter where his score shows up, that johnmitch can outfold me any day of the week!

Many of us have asked over the years that the primary Players tab be redirected to the Soloists page rather than the Evolver's page, but the devs have refused to do that. Perhaps it's past time now for them to acknowledge that there would be no Evolver scores without a great Solo score to work with - and yes, there are many times when a Soloist can take the top score on a puzzle, higher than any group.

IMHO, there is no reason to create a ghost group for soloists to join, post and leave. It directly opposes the developer's rational for groups, games the system - and has no benefit for anyone in the community.

All groups are open to new members, especially during CASP season. Most groups aren't looking for the "best" players - many are simply looking for congenial teammates. If you aren't a member of a group, and wish to join one - send the manager a foldit message to ask!

If anyone would like to create a functioning new group, please do so! The team system, as it is now, is the best method for learning and sharing your knowledge. The Black Belt Folding videos were an attempt to try to spread knowledge across the entire community, but there is no substitute yet for true teamwork.

@Bruno - wherever you are coming from, you would have to agree with those last statements - you have been a member of 3 groups so far, I assume to try to learn what you can from them.

Rather than creating a ghost group for a top player like johnmitch to jump in & out of, the community would be so much better off if johnmitch either joined a group or created his own - then, at least a few players would be able to benefit from learning from him. That's so much healthier for the game than some functional groups being pushed down in rank by a ghost group that no one can learn from.

Again, @ Bruno… perhaps it would be better if you looked at these questions instead: Is it good for the community as a whole? Why skirt around technicalities to do something unless it has great benefit to the community? The devs are extremely busy with CASP right now - is this the right time to game the system to force Foldit to rewrite some rules that you think need to be clarified?

IMHO - delete the ghost group and wait until after CASP to mess around by inserting your personal vision, when everyone has more time to evaluate.

Joined: 09/24/2012
Groups: Go Science

ok auntdeen,

Thanks to have the advice of a veteran with community thinking.

I'd have preferred to wait for more advice from players with no personal or group ranking possible interest conflict, but I simply do not resist more to the pressure.

I'm not convinced concerning the soloist group, but I'm convinced that fighting is not ideal for fun, may be not for the community. And certainly, fighting and being insulted with terms like "loyalty" or questions against my motivations is certainly not good for my health neither my reputation as a real person with a real name. Neither for the fun (but I'll stay playing here for science, yes).

I'll delete the soloist group asap (without notice to johnmitch, it's not fair, sorry), but I keep this discussion for later (after CASP). I learned enough with this experience. OK let's fold in peace.

Joined: 04/18/2014
Groups: None

For the End of the story, i copy here the Soloists Virtual Group rules:
A virtual group with shared scores of soloists


This is not a team.

Just join the group, wait that your scores are recorded, then leave. Your current points will be asigned to the group, but nothing will change for you as a soloist.

The purpose of this experiment is to keep a virtual "group of soloists" and see how it might compete with the real teams.

Please do not share neither evolve anything here. Just join and leave when your soloist score is high enough to give this virtual group more points.

If you like the idea, please invite top soloists to do this quick move and see what happens for this "group without members".

We'll see how a sum of contributing soloists can compete with real teams.

(admin contact: via global Chat or Bruno Kestemont)

Formed 04/18/2014, deleted 05/05/2014
Group ranks: prediction 12, design 13, overall 18.
Best ranks: 6th in puzzles 880 & 882.


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