Often, users on this site ask very basic mathematical questions (in the order of what is the integral of a polynomial, or maybe a trigonometric equation which can be solved by looking up the appropriate addition formulas), as far as I see for two reasons:
- They are really beginners at mathematics (a legitimate question, then)
- They have homework which they want a cheap solution for (a question that should either be closed or the user prompted for more work)
Often, what happens is that a user then posts a full and detailed solution to the question right away, when really, the OP should just be given a hint (in the first case) or asked if he did any work yet (in the second case). Of course, the OP then accepts this quick and easy answer and is done.
I believe that everybody is worse of in this case.
- If the OP is lazy, then he learned that this site is the best method for avoiding work. He will continue to use the site for low quality questions that decrease overall site quality.
- If the OP is a beginner, he learned nothing. If he only recieved a hint, he would then have to work for his answer and he would remember it. This way, he just read the answer and "understood" it, only to forget it a day later. He also made one more step towards being the lazy poster from my first point.
I know that the answer was given in good faith, but I honestly think that it did more harm than good. Do you think that these kinds of complete answers to basic questions should be discouraged? If so, how (I think downvoting is too strong a message...)?