Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How is a Q&A community different from a typical forum?

A Q&A community is different from a typical forum because it focuses on finding answers to the questions of its members. A typical forum, by contrast, operates more like a discussion group, where people are free to give their opinions and topics tend to be more subjective.

While discussion is allowed via our commenting system (by which you can comment on any question or answer), questions and answers themselves should be highly focused. This ensures that finding answers to questions can be done efficiently, the core of what this site is all about.

What kinds of questions can I ask here?

Any question related to Stanford's globally available courses. Examples:

  • Questions related to concepts taught in class
  • Questions related to prerequisite concepts needed to understand certain concepts taught in class
  • Help with homework questions (so long as it doesn't cross the boundary between help and copying/cheating!)
  • Curiosity questions (i.e. if X is true, then what does X imply about Y, etc.)
  • Study questions
  • etc.

So long as your question is related to the course you are now (or soon will be) enrolled in, feel free to ask. However, before you ask, please make sure to search for similar questions. You can search for questions by their title, content, or tags.

What are the characteristics of good questions/answers?

  • Good questions/answers are clear and focused
  • Good questions are specific and relevant to the class
  • Good answers directly address the question at hand, and provide details to the extent necessary
  • (Any comments, questions, or experiences not aimed at directly answering a question should be submitted via the commenting system and not via answers)

Why are email notifications so important?

Email notifications are vital to the success of a question and answer community. These notifications allow community members to be notified of important events, such as:

  • When their questions have been answered
  • When one of their posts is commented on by another member
  • When other members post new questions, answers, or comments in their area of interest

If you're already a member of this community and haven't validated your email address, you can do so here. If you aren't yet a member of this community, join up by creating a new account.

Who moderates this community?

The short answer is: you. This website is moderated by the users. The community features a karma system that allows users to earn rights to perform a variety of moderation tasks.

How does the karma system work?

When a question or answer is upvoted, the user who posted them will gain some points, which are called "karma points". These points serve as a rough measure of the community trust in him/her. Various moderation tasks are gradually assigned to the users based on those points.

For example, if you ask an interesting question or give a helpful answer, your input will be upvoted. On the other hand if the answer is misleading, it will be downvoted. Each vote in favor will generate 15 points, each vote against will subtract 5 points. There is a limit of 200 points that can be accumulated per question or answer. The table below explains karma requirements for each type of moderation task.

  • add comments ⇨ 0
  • close own questions ⇨ 250
  • reopen own questions ⇨ 250
  • retag questions ⇨ 250
  • edit any answer ⇨ 500
  • open any closed question ⇨ 500
  • delete any comment ⇨ 500

What are badges?

Users can earn various badges through participation in the community. Badges signify special achievements and are awarded based on criteria. For example, a famous question badge is awarded to users who post a question that gets more than 500 views. For a full list of available badges hit the badges tab in our navigation panel above.

What is a gravatar?

Gravatar means globally recognized avatar - your unique avatar image associated with your email address. It's simply a picture that shows up next to your posts on the websites that support gravatar protocol. The default gravatar is a randomly generated "face". You can set your image at gravatar.com.

To participate in this community, do I need to create new account?

Actually, you don't have to. You can login through facebook, gmail, or myOpenID here if you have those, or alternatively you can create an account with us!

Why can other people can edit my questions/answers?

Allowing experienced members of this community to curate the questions and answers improves the overall quality of the knowledge base content. If this approach is not for you, we respect your choice.

Still have questions?

Please ask your question, help make our community better!