How to Effectively Use the Course Forum

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One of the most powerful and valuable aspects of this Python course is its public forum. Learning to use the forum effectively may be vital to your success in the course.

In general, the following approach should be taken when you have a question or confusion regarding the course material:
  1. Browse/Search the forum to see if your question has already been answered. If you have a follow-up question, you may post is in the thread where it has been addressed.
  2. If your question has not yet been answered, feel free to post your question in a new thread (see the bottom post for details).
  3. Students are encouraged to assist others on the public forum, within the guidelines posted below.
The below three posts contain a brief overview of the features of the forum and the course rules in regards to posting questions.
How to Browse

Browsing the forum is the most straightforward way of viewing conversations, questions, and answers regarding the course material. There is a wealth of knowledge already discussed and many questions have already been answered (you just need to find them :)).

While browsing can be tedious (since one needs to slog through mountains of posts just to find the answer to a question), many students find it useful as it forces them to read through questions and discussions that they may not have thought of on their own. To browse:
  • The home page for the course forum is here:
Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 2.11.14 PM.png
  • You will only see the levels you have access to (you gain access to the next level once you have passed the Quiz of the current level).
  • Clicking 'Level 1' gives the following:
Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 2.14.05 PM.png
  • Notice that the 'sticky' threads on the top are course material and the 'normal threads' are conversations on the course material.
  • Each thread has a 'prefix' (i.e., 'GENERAL', '1.4', etc). These prefixes correspond to exercise sections from the homework. You can click on a prefix (see the circled area above) to filter your display by the relevant section.
  • Browse away...
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How to Search

Searching the forum is most useful if you have a specific question or error that needs a quick answer. A well-formed search can help you find out if your issue has already been addressed in no time. To search:
  • Click the magnifying glass in the upper-right side of your Quantnet page:
Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 2.28.23 PM.png
  • For a simple search, type a search term into the box. As with many search tools, using double-quotes around the search term will look for an exact match and no quotes will look for a similar match (containing one or more words from the search term):
  • If you click 'Advanced search...' in the above screen, it will bring up the Advanced Search page. You can create a better-targeted search from this screen by looking in a specific forum (i.e., in a specific level), etc.
It is very simple to use this tool; the catch is learning how to perform a useful search. Some examples would be:
  • Searching for a compiler error to find discussions about it. For example: "error C2678: binary '==' : no operator found which takes a left-hand operand of type".
  • Searching for words that are unique to an exercise (general terms will bring up a lot of noise).
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How to Post

Once you've determined that your question has not yet been asked or your topic not yet discussed, you should feel free to post your own question/topic. As there is a vast amount of existing discussion, it is important that we maintain a well-organized forum that is helpful to all students, present and future.

Below are the guidelines for posting:
  • If a question or discussion has not yet been broached, you should create a new thread under the appropriate level's forum:
    Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 2.20.04 PM.png
    • When creating a new thread, always choose the appropriate prefix (either an exercise section, or 'General' if it's not related to a specific exercise):
      Screen Shot 2020-07-06 at 2.16.12 PM.png

    • Always create threads with descriptive titles:
      • Good examples:
        • 1.4: Ctrl+D and Ctrl+Z issues
        • 1.4.1: How to judge if there are consecutive spaces
      • Bad examples:
        • 1.5.4
        • Exercise 1.3.7
  • Keep threads on-topic. Every question/topic should be posted in its own thread (either existing or new). Please do not hijack threads to ask irrelevant questions.
  • Questions should be conceptual and general. If you are posting regarding an issue encountered while coding an exercise, you should post a description of the problem and/or actual error you encounter. Posts should not contain code to be debugged or analyzed for you (unless a TA requests that you post a specific code snippet to help identify a more subtle issue). Code posts will be moderated.
  • TAs and/or other students will help guide you to finding the issue on your own (one of the most important skills in becoming a proficient coder), but will never debug your code or provide the solution.
We work to maintain a clean forum by deleting less useful threads, renaming badly-named threads, and moving the more useful posts to the top. Please do your part by following the above guidelines for posting in the course forums.
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