the noticeable number of school assignment questions has put a damper on my enjoyment of the forum.
for me, the main thing is that these questions are often posed with zero context. on the one hand, this helps to identify them as school assignment questions. on the other hand, it’s frustrating in general to see topics started without any indication of why the particular question is important and without knowing how much the poster knows about the subject already.
just for example:
do big cats purr?
leads to a very different discussion than:
i’ve been reading up on big cats since watching the Tiger King. i’ve read that the structure of the skulls in big cats – lions, tigers, leopards – prevents them from purring. but then i’ve seen a video of a mountain lion purring. it’s curious to me that mountain lions would have the ability to purr but not lions. did purring arise in only some branches of the cat evolutionary tree? or did some cats lose the ability to purr? why would some cats lose (or develop) the ability to purr? what is the evolutionary purrpose of purring (especially in the context of the big cat like a mountain lion)?
for me, “do cats purr?” is like posting a bug report with no screenshots or steps to reproduce the problem. anyone who wants to respond now has to make a lot of assumptions about where and how far to take the conversation, or else they have to spend a lot of extra energy exploring all the possible avenues either by offering all the possibilities upfront or doing a lot of extra back and forth just to establish the basic direction of the discussion.
even when the question is posed with some context, the other main problem of such questions to me is that they feel very transactional. as soon as the person gets an answer, they often disappear into the ether, never to be seen again.
i get that not everyone is going to become an active long-term participant in the forum. but i do think that part of the reason of having the Forum is to build a community. and those school questions almost never seem to lead to a better community.
also, because the questions feel very transactional, it makes me less willing to put a lot of effort into answering them. that in itself is not the issue, but i think my unwillingness to have a good discussion then carries over to other discussions.
i think if the problem continues, it’s probably worth it to develop at least a general official policy for dealing with school assignment questions, just as there is policy around discussions that merely promote a product.