Full rules, competitions terms, and submission guidelines

Zindi is a company and a community dedicated to growing data science talent and opportunities in Africa, and making AI accessible to everyone through the power of data science competitions. We are firmly dedicated to preserving the integrity of the platform, both at the level of our community and our competitions, and in terms of the quality of solutions produced for our clients.

The rules and submission guidelines for competitions and hackathons laid out below are all in the interests of this mission. These rules help us preserve Zindi’s integrity and value, and those caught breaking the rules of the platform will face the full consequences of their actions without hesitation. We trust and rely on every Zindian on the platform to help us maintain Zindi as a welcoming place for data science to help solve the world’s most pressing challenges.

Please note that unless otherwise stated, these rules apply to both hackathons and competitions.

  1. Participation

    1. All members of the public are permitted to participate in any Zindi competition, unless:
    2. They are a full-time or contracted employee of Zindi, or an immediate family member of a full-time or contracted employee of Zindi
    3. They are a full-time, contracted employee, or intern at the host company of the specific competition
    4. Individuals may not participate in a specific challenge if they have helped design the challenge, source and prepare the data, or if they are/will be involved in code review.
    5. Certain hackathons are private, and users must meet the specific criteria of the hackathon to be allowed to participate.
  2. Teams and collaboration

    1. You may participate in competitions as an individual or in a team of up to four people. When creating a team, the team must have a total submission count less than or equal to the maximum allowable submissions as of the formation date. A team will be allowed the maximum number of submissions for the competition, minus the total number of submissions among team members at team formation. Prizes are transferred only to individual players or to the team leader.
    2. Multiple accounts per user are not permitted, and neither is collaboration or membership across multiple teams. Individuals and their submissions originating from multiple accounts will be immediately disqualified from the platform.
    3. Code must not be shared privately outside of a team. Any code that is shared, must be made available to all competition participants through the platform. (i.e. on the discussion boards).
    4. The Zindi user who sets up a team is the default Team Leader. The Team Leader can invite other data scientists to their team. Invited data scientists can accept or reject invitations. Until a second data scientist accepts an invitation to join a team, the data scientist who initiated a team remains an individual on the leaderboard. No additional members may be added to teams within the final 5 days of the competition or the last hour of a hackathon, unless otherwise stated in the competition rules.
    5. A team can be disbanded if it has not yet made a submission. Once a submission is made individual members cannot leave the team.
    6. All members in the team receive points associated with their ranking in the competition and there is no split or division of the points between team members.
    7. The Team Leader is responsible for how prize money is split between team members.
  3. Datasets and packages

    1. The solution must use publicly-available, open-source packages only.
    2. Unless stated, no external data sets are allowed in Zindi competitions.
    3. If external data is allowed, you may only use data that is freely available to everyone. You must send it to Zindi to confirm that it is allowed to be used and then it will appear on the data page under additional data.
    4. Automated machine learning tools such as AutoML are not permitted.
    5. If the challenge is a computer vision challenge, image metadata (image size, aspect ratio, pixel count, etc) may not be used in your model or submission.
    6. You may use pretrained models as long as they are openly available to everyone.
    7. Competition data on Zindi will either be open-access data or the sole property of Zindi and the competition host. This is determined on a per-competition basis.
      1. If the data is open: you are allowed to access, use and share competition data for any commercial, non-commercial, research or education purposes, under a CC-BY SA 4.0 license.
      2. If the data is the sole property of Zindi and the competition host: you may not transmit, duplicate, publish, redistribute or otherwise provide or make available any competition data to any party not participating in the competition (this includes uploading the data to any public site such as Kaggle or GitHub). You may upload, store and work with the data on any cloud platform such as Google Colab, AWS or similar, as long as 1) the data remains private and 2) doing so does not contravene Zindi’s rules of use.
    8. You must notify Zindi immediately upon learning of any unauthorised transmission of or unauthorised access to the competition data, and work with Zindi to rectify any unauthorised transmission or access.
    9. Your solution must not infringe the rights of any third party and you must be legally entitled to assign ownership of all rights of copyright in and to the winning solution code to Zindi.
  4. Submissions and winning

    1. Each competition has a specified maximum number of submissions per day and maximum number of submissions for the whole challenge.
    2. For any competition, users can select the two competition submissions that they wished to be judged on, from the list of their submissions on the competition submissions page. If a user does not select submissions, Zindi will score them on the private leaderboard based on their two highest-scoring public leaderboard submissions.
    3. Zindi maintains a public leaderboard and a private leaderboard for each competition. The public leaderboard includes some percentage of the test dataset. While the competition is open, the public leaderboard will rank the submitted solutions by the accuracy score they achieve. Upon close of the competition, the private leaderboard, which covers the rest of the test dataset, will be made public and will constitute the final ranking for the competition.
    4. If you are in the top 10 of the private leaderboard at the time the leaderboard closes, Zindi will email you to request your code. On receipt of email, you will have 48 hours to respond and submit your code following the submission guidelines detailed below. Failure to respond will result in disqualification from the challenge.
    5. In a prized competition, if your solution places 1st, 2nd, or 3rd on the final leaderboard, you will be required to submit your winning solution code to us for verification, and you thereby agree to assign all worldwide rights of copyright in and to such winning solution to Zindi, unless specified otherwise in the specific rules of the competition.
    6. If two solutions earn identical scores on the leaderboard, the tiebreaker will be the date and time in which the submission was made (the earlier solution will win).
    7. The winners will be paid via bank transfer. International transfer fees will be deducted from the total prize amount, unless the prize money is under $500, in which case the international transfer fees will be covered by Zindi. In all cases, the winners are responsible for any other fees applied by their own bank or other institution for receiving the prize money. All taxes imposed on prizes are the sole responsibility of the winners.
    8. The top 3 winners or team leaders will be required to present Zindi with proof of identification, proof of residence and a letter from your bank confirming your banking details.
    9. Zindi is committed to providing solutions of value to our clients and partners. To this end, we reserve the right to disqualify your winning submission on the grounds of usability or value. This includes but is not limited to the use of data leaks or any other practices that we deem to compromise the inherent value of your solution.
    10. If the error metric requires probabilities to be submitted, do not set thresholds (or round your probabilities) to improve your place on the leaderboard. In order to ensure that the client receives the best solution Zindi will need the raw probabilities. This will allow the clients to set thresholds to their own needs.
  5. Reproducibility of submitted code

    1. If your submitted code does not reproduce your score on the leaderboard, we reserve the right to adjust your rank to the score generated by the code you submitted.
    2. If your code does not run you will be dropped from the top 20. Please make sure your code runs before submitting your solution.
    3. Always set the seed. Rerunning your model should always place you at the same position on the leaderboard. When running your solution, if randomness shifts you down the leaderboard we reserve the right to adjust your rank to the closest score that your submission reproduces.
    4. We expect full documentation. This includes:
      1. All data used
      2. Output data and where they are stored
      3. Explanation of features used
      4. A requirements file with all packages and versions used
      5. Your solution must include the original data provided by Zindi and validated external data (if allowed)
      6. All editing of data must be done in a notebook (i.e. not manually in Excel)
      7. Environment code to be run. (e.g. Google Colab or the specifications of your local machine)
      8. Expected run time for each notebook. This will be useful to the review team for time and resource allocation.
  6. Data standards

    1. Your submitted code must run on the original train, test, and other datasets provided.
    2. If external data is allowed, external data must be freely and publicly available, including pre-trained models with standard libraries. If external data is allowed, any data used should be shared with Zindi to be approved and then shared on the discussion forum. Zindi will also make note of the external data available on the data page.
    3. Packages:
      1. You must submit a requirements file with all packages and versions used.
      2. If a requirements file is not provided, solutions will be run on the most recent packages available.
      3. Custom packages in your submission notebook will not be accepted.
      4. You may only use tools available to everyone i.e. no paid services or free trials that require a credit card.
  7. Consequences of breaking any rules of the competition or submission guidelines:

    1. First offence: No prizes for 6 months and 2000 points will be removed from your profile (probation period). If you are caught cheating, all individuals involved in cheating will be disqualified from the challenge(s) you were caught in and you will be disqualified from winning any competitions for the next six months and 2000 points will be removed from your profile. If you have less than 2000 points to your profile your points will be set to 0.
    2. Second offence: Banned from the platform. If you are caught for a second time your Zindi account will be disabled and you will be disqualified from winning any competitions or Zindi points using any other account.
    3. Teams with individuals who are caught cheating will not be eligible to win prizes or points in the competition in which the cheating occurred, regardless of the individuals’ knowledge of or participation in the offence.
    4. Teams with individuals who have previously committed an offence will not be eligible for any prizes for any competitions during the 6-month probation period.
  8. Monitoring of submissions

    1. Zindi reserves the right to review the solution of any participant in the top 20 of a competition, and make decisions on final placements on this basis.
    2. We will review the top 10 solutions of every competition when the competition ends.
    3. We reserve the right to request code from any user at any time during a challenge. You will have 24 hours to submit your code following the rules for code review (see above). Zindi reserves the right not to explain our reasons for requesting code.
    4. If you do not submit your code within 24 hours you will be disqualified from winning any competitions or Zindi points for the next six months. If you fall under suspicion again and your code is requested and you fail to submit your code within 24 hours, your Zindi account will be disabled and you will be disqualified from winning any competitions or Zindi points with any other account.
  9. General clauses

    1. You acknowledge and agree that Zindi may, without any obligation to do so, remove or disqualify an individual, team, or account if Zindi believes that such individual, team, or account is in violation of these rules. Entry into this competition constitutes your acceptance of these official competition rules.
    2. Zindi reserves the right to disqualify you and/or your submissions from any competition if we believe that you violated the rules or violated the spirit of the competition or the platform in any other way. The disqualifications are irrespective of your position on the leaderboard and completely at the discretion of Zindi.
    3. If there are contradictions between the rules stated here and the rules stated on the competition page, the rules on the competition page take preference for that particular competition.
    4. Zindi reserves the right to update these rules at any time.
  10. Points and points decay (implemented from 18 March 2021)

    1. Zindi awards points for participation in competitions, and the number of points awarded is based on your placement (those closer to the top of the leaderboard will receive more points at the end of the competition). Points awarded are outlined in more detail below:
      1. Prize competitions
        1. 5 points for first submission
        2. 25 points for first submission that is not the sample submission
        3. Points are distributed at the end of the competition based on the function outlined in 10.2., with a minimum value of 25 points.
      2. Points competitions
        1. 25 points for first submission
        2. 50 points for first submission that is not the sample submission
        3. Points are distributed at the end of the competition based on the function outlined in 10.2., with a minimum value of 50 points.
      3. Knowledge competitions
        1. 25 points for first submission
        2. 50 points for first non-sample submission
    2. Competition points distribution function:
      *note that all members of a team receive an equal number of points
    3. Points decay function
      1. As of 18 March 2021, points accumulated on Zindi are subject to a decay function as follows:
      2. Points awarded before 18 March 2021 will be subject to the following decay function:
        where t = number of days since 18 March 2021
      3. Points awarded on or after 18 March 2021 will be subject to the following decay function:
        where t = number of days since the points were awarded
      4. This function is based on the number l33t multiplied by the number of days in a year (488 = 1.337 × 365)