It’s a feature not a bug
Stack Exchange is explicitly different from other Q&A sites like Quora (fun though that site is), in that we are explicitly looking for quality, definitive answers. This is spelled out in the tour and the don’t ask help. If it doesn’t fit the model then we explicitly don’t want it here.
A question that is on-topic is a “better” question than one that is off-topic. Some questions a user wants to ask might be objectively great questions with interesting answers but if it’s off-topic, it is, by our definition, a bad question.
So, to answer your last question first:
Someone else would have given up and gone to quora or somewhere else. Is that really desirable for the community?
Yes, it is. Questions that are OK on Quora may not be OK here.
What is legal advice
Legal advice is like hard-core pornography: I know it when I see it. Also, it can be expensive and incomprehensible.
To illustrate what I mean, consider the law on this in NSW. Section 14 of the [Legal Profession Act 2004] prohibits “engaging in legal practice when not entitled”. It doesn’t use the phrase “legal advice” but it does use “legal practice” which is defined in Section 6:
legal services means work done, or business transacted, in the ordinary course of legal practice.
So, you are engaging in legal practice when you do the things that a legal practice does. An intentionally circular definition.
Some questions are clearly requesting someone to engage in legal practice and some clearly aren’t. However, many are in the grey zone where it might be one or the other and a judgement has to be made.
Whether a question crosses the line is an assessment of the question, the perception of the OP’s motive in asking (is it for information or because they are actually in that situation), the types of answers it might attract, the work that is needed to go into those answers, and the poster’s track record. The fact that you asked 3 almost identical questions in quick succession on the same topic is a big red flag. It suggests that you are asking not out of curiosity but because you really want to know for some reason. If that reason is that you are negotiating an employment contract and are worried about IP issues: consult a lawyer.
Questions about how to write or interpret a particular clause of a contract always fall into the grey zone. Drafting and interpreting contracts is squarely “legal practice”. Complicating this is that no one definitively knows how a particular clause applies to a particular circumstance until it is ruled on by a judge or arbitrator.
Is the “asking for legal advice” close reason being misused? While it is one of the most used reasons, use is not misuse. As I said, it’s a feature, not a bug.
Moderators are too quick to close
Maybe, but there’s no moderator involvement in any of the questions you link. The 3 questions have a total of 7 close and 2 reopen votes, none from moderators.
I’m happy to say that I’ll jump all over a question that is clearly over the line but on edge case, I, and the other mods, generally leave it up to the community.
By the way, the final paragraph of What should a contract contain to protect an employees rights to work on unrelated side projects in their free time causes me to raise an eyebrow but not enough for me to close it. The other two are fine IMO.
Is it better to provide no background?
A question needs sufficient context to be answerable but it doesn’t necessarily need background. Background is one of those flags that suggests the OP is asking for legal advice.
Legal questions that are not about process are almost exclusively of the form “how does the law apply to these facts?” Context is what tells us the legal issue and the (assumed) facts. Questions on this site should be succinct and have one answer; too much “background” almost invariably throws up several legal issues and muddles the facts. Untangling background to tease out the issues and the facts start to look like legal practice. Unless the background is clearly hypothetical.
Some questions are too brief, some questions are too verbose. We want questions in the Goldilocks zone but how long that zone depends on the question. As a guide, err on the side of brevity: users will usually ask for more information while they might pass over excessively long questions – good writing understands human psychology.
Are you a bad writer?
Well, that’s really a question for your literary agent.
Looking at your questions, they are coherent English and have the punctuation in all the right spots so you pass my Writing 101. You’ve even used headings which I love.
What your longer questions do is illustrate what I see as an X-Y problem. You’re assuming that the law says something which I’m not sure is entirely correct and then asking a question about how to redress this possibly non-existent problem in a contract. Perhaps a question on what the law actually says about employee IP might be worthwhile.