12 of the 30 questions on the first two pages of "Questions" are [on hold]. ... that seems high.
The number is not that unusual, especially for late August/early September. A significant subset of our audience around this time of year is entering school after a break, encountering new subjects and, for many, a first experience with higher education. Some users in this particular demographic ask very well thought-out, thoroughly researched questions that relate directly to engineering principles and practice. Most do not.
Is there a good reason for being so obsessed about whether a question might be homework or could have been phrased better? Some of those questions [on hold] looked interesting.
Whether a question is interesting or not is orthogonal to whether it belongs here. What's important is whether it can be reasonably answered in a way that helps future readers solve engineering problems. The metrics we use to make this judgment are breadth, topicality and clarity.
Homework questions are not verboten, despite any claims to the contrary. They just tend to not meet our standards of breadth and/or clarity because relatively few students are prepared to meet those standards without some additional guidance and effort. Graduate students tend to do a little better but they are a minority. You might be interested in this lengthy discussion about closing homework questions.
Once traffic picks up, sure, measures need to be in place and enforced. But till then, perhaps some slack could be an idea, also in the guidelines.
Quality comes first. We have been growing steadily since the site entered public beta. There is no pressure on us to grow more quickly or meet any sort of launch deadline. We have no reason to relax our standards. SE is not a discussion forum; SE is not a networking site; SE is a Q&A platform and the main thing that differentiates it from other such platforms is that we have fairly high standards.
We do recognize this is inconvenient for people who want to have interesting discussions, engage in social or professional networking, crowdsource their homework assignments, and so on. Fortunately, there are many large, popular, successful sites on the greater internet for doing all of those things.