When I first joined this site, we didn't require prior research in questions. It was more fun. It felt inviting (ugh!) and encouraging of learning about the magnificence that is Biology.
Sometime during my absence, it became the norm to require prior research. Fine. It's the norm on many of the sites. So I don't answer those questions, but in comments try to encourage the user on how to look for some background. (This has often been perceived as me showing off or being coy instead of just answering. It's not. I'd much rather just answer the question; it's more direct and more fun.)
Recently, though, I've seen a number of questions without prior research (I'm excluding identification questions) answered by moderators. This, to me, sends mixed messages, as mods are expected - for better or for worse - to uphold the standards of the site and set examples. Sometimes, the questions are explicit enough that it's obvious someone has done some background research required. Sometimes, it's not, and it appears just to be in someone's field of interest/enthusiasm, so the question gets answered. I understand the why but not the why, since it doesn't meet requirements for prior research?
I don't like lazy questions (e.g. actual homework/assignments). I don't enjoy the evangelizing questions ("Prove evolution when..."), or the sociopolitical ones ("When does life begin [in a...]"). I'm happy to close these.
I like to teach. In my career, I had a predisposition to teach. Teaching patients is more helpful than simply telling them what to take or what to do (though I don't believe or support the ideals of the early model HMO.) So, when I see an answer from a mod when there's no obvious reason to answer except to impart knowledge, I wonder if I'm not supposed to answer questions without evidence of research.
I realize this is more gray than black and white, but I would still really appreciate some clarification.
Should we, on principle, only answer questions with evidence of prior research? Or is it, "Only if you feel like it."
In case it's not clear, I like the optional "only if you feel like it". And I have answered some questions without evidence or prior research, usually for reasons of sympathy/empathy.