# Q&A: How to Define Common Knowledge for Online Course Discussions

*Cross-posted from here.*

I’m writing the syllabus for an online math course where participation credit is earned by discussing ideas on the discussion forum. How do I define common knowledge in my syllabus to warn students of unethical scholarly conduct in student postings on platforms?

## Answer

I would consider common knowledge to be any information that does not give away the answer to a question on a pending assignment or test.

- A piece of information "gives away" an answer if it is the answer itself, a formula (or any sort of template) that can be filled in to obtain the answer, a generality for which the answer is a special case, or a special case from which the answer can be inferred as an obvious generalization.
- An assignment or test is "pending" if it is accepting submissions or will be accepting submissions at any point in the future.