Piazza

Purpose

Piazza is a good way to discuss and ask questions about the course materials, including assignments, in a public forum. It enables you to learn from the questions of others, and to avoid asking questions that have already been asked and answered. It is also the primary place for course personnel to make announcements and clarifications about assignments and other course-related topics.

Students are expected to read the pinned posts on Piazza at least once a day.

Enrolling

You will be sent an invitation to your UW email address. It will include a link to a web page where you may complete the enrolment process.

Reading

After you’ve finished the sign-up process, simply go to http://piazza.com/class. You’ll probably want to bookmark this in your browser.

Configuring E-mail Notifications

By default, Piazza emails you when there are new topics and posts. This can get overwhelming when the class is busy. Fortunately, Piazza allows you to configure how frequently you get emails:

  • Click on the gear icon at the top right corner of the screen
  • Choose “Account/Email Settings”
  • Scroll to “Class & Email Settings”
  • Click “Edit Email notifications”

“Smart Digest” is a good choice for most people.

It is wise to leave the “For updates to Questions or Notes you follow” to “Real Time” unless you check Piazza more frequently than you check your email.

Posting Guidelines

  1. Please remember that by default everything you post is public - everyone enrolled in CS 135 will be reading it. As a result, in any posts you make, do not give away any details on how to do any of the assignments. This could be construed as cheating, and you will be responsible as the poster.

  2. If you have questions about an assignment that require you give specific details of your solution, you may still post to Piazza, but check This is a private post - only visible to class instructors (and ISAs!). If the instructors and/or ISAs feels that posting it to everyone is appropriate, he or she will do so. More details below.

  3. Keep posts related to the course, concise, and topical. As students are all expected to read Piazza on a regular basis, try not to waste the time of readers.

  4. Please be diligent about attempting to find the answer before you post a question. Piazza includes excellent search facilities – use them! Scan all of the questions that have already been asked. Better yet, read them along with the answers. You’ll learn lots!

    This avoids duplicate questions, which are frustrating to everyone. It’s more work to answer two questions than to answer one, there may be conflicting advice, students need to sift through more entries to find what they need, etc. Please do all you can to avoid duplicates.

  5. Make it easy for other students to find your question – just in case they have the same question and want to see the answer!

    • Use a meaningful subject heading. “Help” and even “Help for A3P3” is not very meaningful. “Clarify parameter order for A3P3” is much better.
    • Tag your post with all the applicable tags. Start a tag by typing the hash character (#). A drop-down list of tags that are currently in use will appear. Use one of them, if applicable. If not, create a new one. However, any tag you create should be applicable to many posts not just yours.
  6. Please don’t post things to the group that provide no useful information to readers. Posts like “I have the same question as this one just posted”, or “I agree with this comment” serve no useful purpose, and waste people’s time.

  7. Keep complaints about the course out of Piazza or mark them with the This is a private post - only visible to class instructors checkbox. If you have a concern about anything to do with the course, the best way to deal with it, and to get results, is to take it to an ISA or the professor. Piazza is not a complaint forum.

Appropriate and inappropriate posts

Here are some guidelines about what is okay and what is not for public posts on Piazza. It is not an exhaustive list, but should give you a sense of what we are looking for.

If something is not appropriate to ask in a public post then you make ask it in a private post, or use our 1-1 office hours.

Once in a while a private post is okay to be public, and would be helpful for other students to see. In that case we may request to make the post public.

Okay

  • General lecture questions

    • “What does this phrase on this slide mean?”
    • “Could somebody provide another example to illustrate this concept?”
  • Course concepts

    • Lecture slides
    • Lecture exercises (not self-checks)
    • Problems from the textbook
  • Problems you make up to test your understanding

    • You can make as many practice problems as you want, but don’t make them too similar to assignment problems.
  • Clarifications on ambiguities or errors in the assignments

  • “May we assume rational numbers for Q3?”
  • Questions about design recipe and style

    • Be careful not to reveal assignment code!
    • Be careful to read through the Style Guide first!
  • Issues you are having with the technology of the course (Teams, DrRacket, etc)

  • Practice (not required) stepper problems on assignments

  • Questions about error messages

    • Try to understand the error message before posting: DrRacket errors are usually pretty informative.
    • Be careful! Don’t reveal assignment code.
    • Look at the Markus Help page for errors that come up on Markus.
  • Questions about how the course is set up

Not okay

The rule of thumb: if it could be submitted for marks, you should not discuss it in a public post (but you may make a private post).

  • Assignment questions that reveal answers

    • “What did I do wrong in this code?”
    • “How should I represent 4/3 in the formula for volume?”
    • “Is this set of test cases sufficient?”
    • “I do not know how to approach question 5”
  • Questions asking us to mark assignments before they are handed in

    • “How many helper functions do I need?”
    • “Do I have enough tests?”
    • “Should I make this value a constant?”
  • Self-check questions

    • “Why did I get this wrong?”
    • “I do not understand the answer to this self-check question”
  • Required stepper questions

    • “What is the next step?”
  • Bonus questions (we do not discuss them at all)

    • “How do I approach this question?”

After the deadline for these has passed (for assignments: once the solutions have been released) then you may discuss them. But note that people who join the course late still have the opportunity to do the self-check questions.

Fuzzy

There is tan irritating fuzzy line where people ask about general concepts that are closely related to assignment questions. To be on the safe side you may want to make them private posts or discuss them in office hours.

If the spirit behind your question is “how do I solve this assignment problem?” then you are headed for the danger zone. Turn back!

  • “How would I format a hypothetical literal for a hypothetical question about a sphere?”
  • “Here is the formula for the volume of a cone. How would I translate this, given that it is very close to the formula for a volume of a sphere?”
  • “How would I rewrite this cond using boolean expressions, and by the way the cond is structured very similarly to something on the assignment?”