Before posting a new question, ask:
Can the question be answered with a generic search engine?
Paste your question title into Google (or Bing or Yahoo or ...) and run a basic search. Do not worry about the prepositions and articles, most search engines ignore them.
If you get nothing useful at all, then your title is probably a poor statement of what you want to know. Rewrite it and search again.
If you find a complete answer, then there is no need to use Stack Exchange at all.
If you find some related material but nothing that deals with the particular information you are seeking, then this may be a question for Stack Exchange.
Is your "question" really a question?
If you have used the expressions "interested in ..." or "find out about ...", then you have probably described an area in which you work but not framed a question with sufficient focus to enable others to assist you.
Is the significance of your question clear?
Remember that you are asking other family historians to put aside their own work to help you. Be sure that the question is worth their effort. Sometimes the way you ask a question can hide its true value. Who was Fred Smith's father? looks like a question that should be answered by reference to one record in a repository. Which of three John Smiths (b 1820-1830 in Devon) was the father of Fred (b 1847)? is far more likely to attract interest and effort.
Does your question have multiple independent (although related) threads?
Allow readers to focus on one task at a time by separating out questions that can be investigated independently. You might want to know about an illegitimate birth, migration to the New World and conscripted military service in one branch of your tree, but I might not have the time or interest to deal with all of them. Split your request into separate well-focused questions. If the same background material is necessary for several questions then copy and paste it into each. Mention in the body of each question that there are other questions on the same person or family (and add hyperlinks between them), but ensure that the title focuses on one and only one at a time.
Have you demonstrated your own effort to find an answer?
Stack Exchange is not meant to be the first place to which you turn every time you want some information. You should not write a question until you have (at least) exhausted the obvious sources of a possible answer. A question that appears to be trying to get someone else to do all the work will not attract (favourable) attention. At the very least, you should show how you gathered what you already know; and for extra credit, describe a search that failed to move your understanding forward.
Where is the answer likely to be found?
If people reading your question are likely to believe that the answer "should" be available in a standard reference (such as the help file for your software) then go back to the previous point and prove them wrong before you post. Do not ask How can I do X? I use A. because the answer See pages p-q of the manual! wastes others' time and makes you look silly. On the other hand I have seen users of software B and C do X. It seems that I cannot do it with A because of .... Is there a way around this? might generate very useful responses.
Does the question contain all of the necessary background and context?
Think about English crime stories on television where the suspect is cautioned You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. The one thing that you do not want to write when editing a question is "Didn't I say that ..." Before you post, have someone else read your question and note carefully what clarification they seek. If they ask something you know but did not write, add it in.
Is the task you are setting feasible?
A question might satisfy all of the criteria listed above but still attract no interest. Which records in the secret Vatican Archives would disprove the claim that my 6xgreat grandfather was the Supreme Prior of the Rosicrucians? I have read THE DA VINCI CODE from cover to cover but cannot find an online index for the relevant documents. However fascinating this may seem, I would not respond because there is no way in which I could access any useful information. Think carefully whether anyone will have the time and resources to deal with your question.
How many different answers could your question have?
If there are three or more possible answers, this is probably not a suitable question. Requests for personal preferences (such as Which .... do you use?) or extended lists (Where could I find ...) are generally not appropriate.
If your question has two possible answers and you expect to choose between them by counting the number of responses of each type, then it needs more work. Stack Exchange operates on the quality of the answers not the quantity. Which is better, ... or ...? questions are almost always inappropriate.
If your question can have no definitive answer, but will generate a really lively discussion; do not post it. Look in the top menu for Chat and take it there. Stack Exchange encourages robust exchanges of strongly-held opinions, but not in the Q&A pages.
Is your question about genealogy and family history or Genealogy & Family History?
There is a separate section of the site for questions about the site and how it operates. It is called the Meta. Do not post Meta questions on the Main Q&A page.
Has the question been asked (and answered) on SE before?
Do not post any question until you have run all the key words you have used through the search box at the top of the Questions page.
Read each hit that it identifies (both questions and answers).
- If there is a partial answer to what you want then edit your question to acknowledge that before you post.
- If there is another question that appears to be a duplicate (or closely related) but you believe it is not, then make explicit reference to that. Question 12345 has similar content but is not the same because ...
Do you know the answer to your question already?
Stack Exchange makes provision both for asking questions to which you know the answer and for answering your own question. That does not mean that every such question is appropriate. Until you have some experience in framing good questions, you may be wise to avoid them.
If you are tempted to post a Dorothy Dixer, consider two more questions Why are you posting? and Does the form of the question reveal that you know the answer? A clumsily phrased question may undo whatever you are attempting to achieve.