Are there guidelines for what constitutes a good question? What should be included in a question and what shouldn't be?
Make it as easy as possible for the answerer to answer.
This is probably the most important thing.
Stick to one question and make it stand out. The answerer should have no doubt as to what the question is.
Make the question the title. See Advice for writing question titles on Islam.SE.
In addition, answerers are more likely to answer questions which have the properties:
- Unlikely to change (which would waste the answerers' time),
- Unlikely to result in discussion, i.e., there's a clear endpoint to the answerer's commitment,
- Likely to yield upvotes and maybe even acceptance if the answerer takes the time to answer, i.e., appreciation,
- Properly formatted,
- Self contained, i.e., the answerer does not need to go off-site to work out what the question is.
When I answer questions at math.SE, I inspect a question for maybe 2 seconds before deciding (a) if I'm capable of answer it, and (b) if it's worth my time answering it. I mention my math.SE "volunteer work" on my CV, so there's a real-world benefit to this reputation. If I feel answering a question will not yield reputation, I won't bother answering and just move onto the next question.
What else to include (Or: Where's the rest of the question?)
Why do you ask? Explain the motivation behind the question. This is helpful for phrasing answers to match.
However, experience indicates providing details of questions motivated by personal reasons distracts more than it helps. (Pro-tip: Use Google to find a webpage of someone else with the same personal problem, and ask about their problem.)
What do you know? This indicates your current level of understanding; it also indicates where there may be misunderstandings. E.g.:
- I Googled [blah blah blah], but there were no relevant results,
- I found this fatwa which says [blah blah blah], but that doesn't answer the question because [blah blah blah].
- My friend told me [blah blah blah].
- I found [this question], but that differs from this question because [blah blah blah].
What do you think the answer is? This indicates you've put some thought into the question. E.g.:
- I think the answer is [blah blah blah] because of [blah blah blah], but I'm not too confident.
- [This fatwa] says [blah blah blah] which suggests the answer is [blah blah blah].
- I'm fairly sure the answer is [blah blah blah] because of [blah blah blah], but I want to check.
- [Unreliable reference] says the answer is [blah blah blah], but this source is unreliable.
Search for your question first. This is not a foolproof solution, but it's better than risking posting a duplicate.
Be on-topic. If it's completely off-topic, don't bother. For Islam.SE, the boundaries of on-topic and off-topic are not clearly defined. I have no qualms about asking borderline questions, because at worst they'll be closed.
Avoid single-use questions. They're really boring and often go ignored. These are questions which are so specific to the user's circumstances, that the answer would only be valuable to the user themselves.
These are on the How to Ask page.
Google the title of your question. If it doesn't contain the appropriate Google keywords, the title needs rephrasing to include those keywords.
Reference and link to specific Qur'an, Hadith, fatwa, etc. There's different versions of each of these and it's helpful to pinpoint exactly which one the author is referring to.
Link to Wikipedia for non-obvious Arabic terms, specific scholars, important texts, etc.