Getting Help

Based on a document by Julie Zelenski, Cynthia Lee, and others

If, over the course of the quarter, you ever need any clarifications on course materials or policies, or are wrestling with a challenging bug, there are a variety of resources available. We hope you'll take advantage of them!

Helper Hours

Helper hours are a great place for discussion on conceptual topics or issues too complex for the discussion forum, both with other students and with the course staff. They are also the primary resource when you need help resolving an issue within your code with a staff member. We are using Nooks this quarter to facilitate student study groups and staff help. You can join the CS107 Nooks community and read more about how Helper Hours work at this link:

Visit the CS107 Nooks Community

When working with other students in Helper Hours, please adhere to the Honor Code and collaboration policies. For example, do not discuss code-level or answer-level details with other students, do not look at others' code/solutions or share your code/solutions with others, do not work through debugging another student's program, and make sure to cite collaboration as appropriate.

For help from the staff in particular, please be mindful that a large number of students are being supported by a relatively small staff, and we ask that you be respectful in sharing helper hours time with other students. You should come prepared, having done your own legwork, and with an appropriate expectation of what the staff member will do for you. If you're in the midst of a debugging effort, be ready to articulate what you are trying to accomplish, what you have tried/observed, what you think might be the problem, and what advice you need to move forward. You should not just provide a staff member with your code and ask them to tell you what's wrong with it or debug it for you. We are happy to offer guidance and point you in the right direction with any issues you encounter, but the course staff is not responsible for finding and fixing all your bugs; that is something we want you to gain experience with.

Staff Helper Hours Times

These times are when the staff will be helping students at Helper Hours. The schedule should be mostly the same week to week. All times below are in PDT. The queue for signing up for staff help can be found here (you'll need to make a free account the first time you sign up for help):

Staff Helper Hours Queue

Discussion Forum

We host a course discussion forum on Ed. Ed is similar to Piazza for those who might have used that, but offers several additional benefits, such as more flexible answering and instructor endorsement, a more flexible editor and running code right within a post.

In Ed, you can engage with your peers, ask your questions, and answer those of your classmates. The forum is appropriate for all topics of course relevance, e.g., discussions of readings/lectures, advice on using the tools effectively, clarifying specifications of an assignment, sharing resources, and more. Having the discussion in a public place means that everyone can benefit and keeps things efficient and inclusive to all. The course staff will also monitor and participate in the forum. Finally, the forum will also be used to source questions about lecture sessions, both during and after.

Note that it is not intended for specific questions about your code, or for other private posts (this feature is not enabled in the CS107 forum).

Here are some tips:

  • Search before you post
  • Use a descriptive summary for your post
  • Follow and respond to others' posts
  • Heart questions and answers you find useful
  • Share interesting course related content with staff and peers

We encourage you to participate openly and non-anonymously on the forum when asking questions or posting answers; it is immensely rewarding to know who you can thank for an answer to your question, or who you are helping by answering a question!

Please do NOT post the code to solve a homework assignment (in whole or in part, or partial code in progress) on the class discussion board, ever, for any reason; this can be considered a violation of the Stanford Honor Code. Also please do not post highly detailed written descriptions of your solution to an assignment. It is, however, acceptable and encouraged to post discussions of homework ideas in general terms. Alternatively, if you want to ask a code-related question on the forum, consider asking about a non-homework piece of code, such as a lecture example or example from the textbook. You may post any code you like as long as it is not part of a homework assignment solution.

By clicking the link below, you acknowledge that you have read the preceding text, and agree to abide by the rules written above.

Visit the CS107 Forum

Emailing the Course Staff

You can reach the course staff at cs107@cs.stanford.edu. Please do not send email to a specific CA; we use a single email address to track questions and most efficiently respond to students. Email is used for requests of a personal nature, such as about grades or Office of Accessible Education accommodations.

Note that the course staff email is not intended for course material or code questions. Please take advantage of the discussion forum or helper hours for these kinds of questions.

Email the Course Staff

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I schedule an appointment outside of helper hours?

Our staff is committed to the 40+ hours scheduled per week; for this reason, requests for additional appointments with the TAs cannot generally be accommodated.

The staff queue is crowded the night before a deadline. How can I get help at a less busy time?

Any staff helper hours scheduled close to the assignment deadlines are likely to be heavily attended with students focused on meeting deadlines, and the staff will need to keep up a brisk pace to efficiently process the large number of questions. Hours at other times in the week are more relaxed, and we encourage you to take advantage of those off-peak hours. You can also feel free to hop over to the community outside of staff hours to work with other students!

I showed my code to the staff but they didn't find my bug!

I'm sorry you are disappointed, but there may be a misunderstanding about what to expect from our staff. We do not intend to be a resource that, upon reviewing your code, will spot your bug and tell you how to fix it. Many bugs don't lend themselves to that sort of instantaneous resolution, but even for those that do, we intentionally avoid offering quick fixes. While finding and fixing a bug may solve the immediate problem, it does little to build self-sufficiency in debugging going forward. Debugging can be hard work, but it is an essential part of programming and only by working through it do you build up your skills. This is our goal for you!

When faced with a challenging bug, we can be your guide, your coach, your advisor, and your cheerleader. Ask for our help interpreting the symptoms and the observations you have made. Invite us to review what you have figured out so far and brainstorm what to try next. Seek advice on which tools and what experiments will be helpful. Lean on us for moral support and encouragement when the going gets rough. And celebrate with us when you nail that bug!