Below the expected uses of the newsgroup are clarified by Prof. Cohen:

  1. The newsgroup is intended for certain specific purposes only. It will be monitored by the TAs. If there is anything that is important to bring to my attention, they will let me know. It is primarily intended for posting position papers, joint communiques for RPEs and to allow for overflow discussion of RPEs (people whose hands were not taken in class).
  2. As indicated in the Communication section of the Structure document, any questions about assignments should be brought directly to my attention (email to Likewise, questions about RPEs and such should also be sent directly to These will be read by the TAs, who are managing the RPEs. So these two types of queries should not be posted onto the newsgroup. If anything arises that is critical to bring to everyone's attention, we can use the newsgroup to achieve an ultimate "broadcast".
  3. There is no requirement for students to be posting to the newsgroup. Having no postings on the newsgroup (other than uploading your RPE position paper and joint communique) imposes no penalties whatsoever. Your class participation grade is going to be decided primarily on the basis of your attendance/discussion during lecture slots and attendance/discussion at RPEs. You cannot recoup a good grade by failing to attend and sending along a posting. The newsgroup is where you can voice your opinion if you have additional thoughts, prior to or following the RPE or (as mentioned) if you had wanted to say something but we were unable to take your hand.
  4. Other possible uses of the newsgroup are to bring to the attention of the class an interesting, current social issue that we have not had time to discuss in class or to continue discussion on an item that was already raised (especially if I was unable to take your hand).
  5. Discussing assignments on the newsgroup is not advisable. In particular, each of you is expected to do your own work in deciding what you want to say, how you want to cover your points, etc. If you are unclear about requirements, ask me in class (or fire off an email).

We have migrated to a Piazza newsgroup. If you have questions on how to use Piazza, ask the TAs at

The previous newsgroup for the course is uw.cs.cs492, and it can be reached by following the instructions here.