CS 3110 Net and Email Guidelines

We use the web, email, and newsgroups quite extensively in this course.  As a new student, you may be unaware of some of the informal rules of etiquette for electronic interaction (aka "netiquette") that have evolved in recent years.  Please take a moment to read about these rules below.  Most are just a matter of common sense.  Experienced users follow them, and we expect you to as well. There are no official penalties for breaking them, except possibly incurring the wrath of the course staff, which you probably want to avoid.  The most important rule is to behave at all times with courtesy and consideration for others.


If you need an answer to a question, you have several options:

In general, your first choice for technical questions should be the newsgroup.  The newsgroup has the advantage that others in the class can benefit from the discussion.  The course staff monitor the newsgroup closely and will respond in a timely fashion.

Email should be reserved for questions of a more confidential nature or if you need to show us code relevant to an assignment.  If you do email us code for purposes of illustration, it should be properly formatted and commented, and the difficulty you are having should be explained carefully.  Do not simply email us your code with a statement like, "I can't figure out why this doesn't work".  We will just tell you to come to consulting hours.

Also, please do not...

Course Newsgroups

Newsgroups (aka Usenet, Netnews, Bulletin Boards) are public forums to which anyone can subscribe, read, and post messages to.  They are an efficient way to disseminate information to a large number of people quickly.  Instructions for accessing newsgroups can be found here.

We have two newsgroups for 3110: cornell.class.cs3110 and cornell.class.cs3110.talk.  The former is for technical discussions, questions, and comments related directly to class material. For example, clarification of an assignment, questions about lecture or section, etc. should be posted to this group. If a conversation thread drifts away from these topics, please move it to a more appropriate group.  This brings us to the latter group, cornell.class.cs3110.talk. Pretty much anything goes here. This group was created because 3110 students, staff, and alumni tend to be a friendly bunch, and discussions ranging from t-shirts to the computer industry were cluttering the main group. So questions about computer science in general, chatting, holy wars, and the like should be confined to cornell.class.cs3110.talk.


Posting Code

The most important and least bendable rule is that code relating to problem sets is not to be posted. Infractions will be considered violations of the Code of Academic Integrity. If you are unsure whether a posting is ok, don't risk it. However, this does not preclude asking questions about why a bit of code acts in a certain way, as long as the code in question is generic and not specific to a problem set.


Avoid the temptation to post the same article to multiple newsgroups.

Do not post a public reply and send a copy via email.


Do not post in a public forum something you have received in private email without the author's permission.

Abbreviations and Case

Please avoid chatroom-style abbreviations such as "ur" and "lol".

Never use ALL CAPITALS in email.  It is considered equivalent to shouting.

Line lengths

Like your code, posts and email should not have excessively long lines. This generally means 80 characters per line maximum. It is annoying for the reader to have to scroll to read long lines.

Plaintext, MIME, and HTML

Some email and news programs, particularly those by Microsoft and Netscape, default to sending MIME-encoded, HTML-based styled text. Experienced users find this distracting.  Please set the options of your mail software to send messages in plain text.


Short is best.  And please, no ASCII artwork.


Set your email and newsgroup software to include the quoted text of the original message when replying.  By default, it usually includes the entire message, but you should delete all but the most essential parts.  This includes signatures, salutations, and anything else that you are not replying to.  Edit long messages, keeping just enough to put your reply in the proper context.

Keep the attribution line at the top, so the reader knows who wrote the original message.  For nested quotations, be sure the attributions are correct.

Don't change the header.  Change the subject line if the topic changes.

Start your new message after the quoted text.  This makes the thread easier to follow.


Unless a newsgroup has "binaries" in its name, such as alt.binaries.signatures or comp.binaries.amiga, never post even a small binary (non-text) file. There are better ways of distributing files that put far less load on the network infrastructure.