|Perl: the Markov chain saw|
Are we doing them more harm than good by giving them the answers they ask for?
I don't presume to know what is good for people - I've not been trained as a High School teacher :-)
Consequently I usually just (try to) answer the question. I guess a more altruistic person might stop to consider the excellent points raised in apl's post, but I'm not an altruist - nor am I qualified to be one.
Replying to posts is (generally speaking), for me, an act of self-indulgence. It's all about solving a puzzle that *I* find interesting, or showing off something that *I've* picked up somewhere along the way ... or maybe it's something *I'm* doing as a learning exercise or as an exercise in clear thinking. It's all good and fine if the OP derives some benefit from my reply - but that's generally a secondary concern.
I also find it particularly annoying when I get a "teacher reply" to questions that I've asked. In fact, I usually interpret such responses as smug, smartarse "I'm better than you cos I know something you don't" responses. Thankfully, I (usually) manage to conceal my displeasure :-)
By some strange coincidence, I happened to read this article by Maryann Wolf in Saturday's (Melbourne) Herald Sun newspaper. I rarely read that paper - which makes it an even stranger coincidence. (The article is not related specifically to this discussion, but it also refers to Socrates and it's along similar lines to apl's post.)