When searching for a plasmid on Addgene what does it mean if it is said to be an "empty backbone"? Why would one want an empty backbone?
If you look on a very basic plasmid map, you usually see three different features: An origin of replication (often abbreviated ori or origin) which is necessary for the replication of the plasmid, a resistance gene (not necessary but useful to select for) and and multi cloning site (abbreviated MCS) which contains a number of unique restriction enzyme recognition sites, see the figure (from here):
In molecular biology plasmids are used to overexpress proteins in bacteria (or other cells) which are of any interest. To do this, you bring in the coding information for this gene into the plasmid using the MCS. Here you can cut the plasmid controlled (only open the ring on one site) and insert DNA of interest. An empty plasmid in this context means that it can readily used for cloning purposes as it does not contain any foreign DNA.