It seems to me that there are a number of students who are genuinely
clueless as to prioritizing research. For instance, the first thing you
should do is use the library and exhaust the printed sources and Interlibrary
loan for books and articles. Questions to the list should be very specific
and formulated only after serious research and study. It's not the job of
the list members to provide basic research or papers. But I think that
some students don't understand that print research should proceed questions
to the list.
Perhaps there could be a standard or canned response to these questions
that cites appropriate general books and articles to begin research with.
In that way you would be giving a response but not feeling like you have
to do their work for them. Point them to Twain A to Z, Paine's biography,
some critical works.
I agree with Jerry O'Brien that these are inappropriate messages, but
they seem to stem from basic ignorance of the research process.
My 2 cents worth. ;-) Mary Lou Caskey