Readings are subject to change. Please always check the online syllabus.

CS 6470: Design of Online Communities

Instructor: Amy Bruckman
Email: asb at
Student Hours: Talk to me after class, or email for an appointment.
TA: Xander Koo
Email: xander at
Student Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
TA: Rijul Magu
Email: rmagu3 at
Student Hours: Find me after class, or email for an appointment.
Location: Scheller 101 (note: this is an in-person class)
Time: Tuesday, Thursday 12:30-1:45
Class Schedule: Calendar

Learning Objectives

Online communities are becoming an increasing part of how we work, play, and learn. But how are they designed? What are they really good for? Why are some communities more successful than others? What are the key issues in this field of research?

At the completion of this course, students will be able to:



Additional readings are online and on Canvas.

Assignments and Grading

Your grade is based on:

Assignments (except reading reflections) will be graded on a list of criteria (specified on the assignment) such as quality of writing, completeness, insight into design issues, insight into social issues, etc. For each criterion, you will receive either a check plus, check, or check minus. Most criterion will receive a check. A plus means "you impressed me." A minus means the assignment is incomplete, incorrect, or sloppy in some fashion with respect to that criterion. Your grade on an assignment starts at a 90 and goes up about 3 points for each plus and down about 3 points for each minus. This is not exact--it may be adjusted more. Generally, a 90 means your work satisifed what was expected and more than that means you impressed us; less means this not what we expected.

Extra credit towards the community study paper and design assignment are offered for giving an in-class presentation.

Late Policy

Assignments are due fifteen minutes before the start of class on the day they are due.

Reading reflections may not be late. The point of reading reflections is to encourage you to come to class having done the reading carefully and ready to discuss it. After fifteen minutes before class starts, the reflection will receive a zero unless you have a documented excuse (such as illness, job interview, conference attendance). Reading reflections may not use late days.

For all other work (other than reading reflections), over the course of the term, you have three "late days" where work may be late with no explanation needed. Once you have used up your late days, late assignments will be penalized at a rate of 3 pts (one grade step: A becomes A-) per day. Assignments more than one week late will not be accepted. Presentations may not be late. I suggest you save your late days for your larger assignments. We can't transfer them if you have used them and then are late on a later assignment worth more points.


You are encouraged to attend class in person. However, if you feel ill or have another legitimate excuse, you may watch the livestream or the recording. Legitimate excuses include things like illness, a job interview, or attending a professional conference. Things that are not legitimate include having furniture delivered, picking someone up at the airport, or having a presentation in another class (please tell your other professor to not schedule during someone else's class.)

Please note that the single best thing you can do to do well in this class is to make sure to attend all the lectures. There are things you need to know about how to do your project that you will miss if you don't attend.

Please remember to sign the attendance sheet each class (starting week two). If you have a legitimate excuse and watch the livestream or recording, to get credit for attendance you must submit lecture notes by email to the head TA. If there is an in-class discussion, your notes should include your thoughts on what you would have said if you were present. Lecture notes are due as soon as possible after class (up to one week later, maximum) or after you are well/back from emergency travel. (You may not wait and hand them in at the end of the term.)

Stay home if you are sick

Stay home if you are sick. If you have any symptoms of illness of any kind, please don't come in.

English as a Second Language

If Engish is not your first language, you may request to not be graded on your writing for a particular individual assignment. This means you won't be penalized for bad writing, but you also won't get credit for good writing. To take advantage of this option, you must mark "ESL" (English as a Second Language) on the first page of your assignment/paper. This option is not available for group assignments. We still of course expect you to try to write in correct English, and will do our best to offer useful feedback on your writing.

Reference format

Please use APA format for all references. APA format is described here.

Honor Code

This class abides by the Georgia Tech Honor Code. All assigned work is expected to be individual, except where explicitly written otherwise. You are encouraged to discuss the assignments with your classmates; however, what you hand in should be your own work.

Policy on use of AI

This policy is adapted from one by David Joyner and is used with permission.

We treat AI-based assistance, such as ChatGPT, the same way we treat collaboration with other people: you are welcome to talk about your ideas and work with other people, both inside and outside the class, as well as with AI-based assistants. However, all work you submit must be your own. You should never include in your assignment anything that was not written directly by you without proper citation (including quotation marks and in-line citation for direct quotes).

Including anything you did not write in your assignment without proper citation will be treated as an academic misconduct case.

If you are unsure where the line is between collaborating with AI and copying from AI, we recommend the following heuristics:

  1. Never hit "Copy" within your conversation with an AI assistant. You can copy your own work into your conversation, but do not copy anything from the conversation back into your assignment. Instead, use your interaction with the AI assistant as a learning experience, then let your assignment reflect your improved understanding.
  2. Do not have your assignment and the AI agent open at the same time. Similar to above, use your conversation with the AI as a learning experience, then close the interaction down, open your assignment, and let your assignment reflect your revised knowledge. This heuristic includes avoiding using AI directly integrated into your composition environment: just as you should not let a classmate write content or code directly into your submission, so also you should avoid using tools that directly add content to your submission.

Deviating from these heuristics does not automatically qualify as academic misconduct; however, following these heuristics essentially guarantees your collaboration will not cross the line into misconduct.

Use of grammar checkers and spelling verifiers are allowed without restriction.

Canvas detects plagiarism and use of AI. Unauthorized use of AI or plagiarism will be reported to the Office of Student Integrity.

No Laptop or Cell Phone Use in Class

Please do not use your laptop or cell phone in class, unless specifically asked to do so. The reason is that you will end up not paying attention, and may distract others around you.

If you want to take notes, please do so on paper. You may ask for an exception to this policy if needed. I will occasionally ask you to bring and use your laptops.