First of all, I want to clearly express that I believe that the questions asking about "how to solve a problem" should include what the user thinks about the problem, things he considered up until that point, and his exact position in the journey to a solution.
No one would want to do someone else's dirty work: A person who is answering a question is probably motivated the fact that (at least, I am) the person who asked the question is learning something.
However, I don't believe that in some cases it's not appropriate to reply with a "what have you tried/found so far" comment. Some questions do not involve problem solving -- they just ask for a direct expert knowledge.
This is what I have encountered a few days ago:
In such a case, the person who is asking the question cannot use Google, or any kind of book review to answer such a question as "which books of author X make such a specialized connection with field Y". The only way to do a concrete form of research would be either (1) reading the books of X (2) ask an expert in real life
Obviously, (1) isn't a plausible option. I don't believe it's much different than saying "I see that you have a programming question on SO. We are expecting you to come after you solve lots of other problems related to it and implement them in various languages to really understand the problem. Then you can come and tell us what you have done and we can tell you whether you are on the right track"
As for option (2), if a person who can ask the question personally knows an expert in real life, why ask it on a Stack Exchange site?
After this long introduction, my question is as follows:
Do you also think that in some cases (as illustrated above), which asks for an expert opinion or a bit of knowledge which cannot be found in anywhere except an expert person, "what have you tried/found so far" responses are inappropriate? If yes, what would be an objective way to describe that class of questions?
Some other example questions would be as follows:
"I saw a PDF document with a table that looked such and such, but I don't know what it is called. How can I achieve that effect?" on tex.stachexchange.com
"Is there an idiom for expressing such and such" on english.stackexchange.com
"I'm looking for a PC game with such and such features" on gaming.stackexchange.com