There are times I need to solve a problem and have begun researching coding solutions X and Y. For example X appears to be the first step to achieving solution with Y. I don't know anything about either though, and it's possible the entire solution can be done with Y or maybe even some solution Z. In cases like this, I am in a predicament of "If I had bacon, I could have bacon and eggs, if only I had some eggs", a circular researching problem. Asking a question that is too vague though often gets it flagged as unhelpful or unresearched and quickly shut down.

5If you get shut down for 'lack of research' one solution is to show what research you've done. Point out what solutions you've looked at and why you're having difficulty.– SobriqueMar 9 '15 at 21:41

1I don't know that such a question would be on topic for SO. This sounds like it might be a better fit for Programmers.– cimmanonMar 11 '15 at 16:28

3@cimmanon it's about asking questions on stackoverflow– KiwizoomMar 11 '15 at 17:03
Just explain everything.
You have a larger problem, and a theory about how to approach it that involves solving a simpler problem, but you also don't know how to do that, or even if it will solve the larger problem. Just explain all of that in your question.
Explain what your actual larger problem is. Explain what approach you're attempting to use to solve it, and explain what problem you are having in attempting to solve the smaller problem.
Given all of the appropriate information, answerers are then free to explain how to address the problem you have with your smaller problem, and any pieces you may be missing in using it to solve your larger problem. Alternatively they can just give you a different way of solving the larger problem, without using your smaller problem.
By explaining not only what large problem you have, but how you're tried (and failed) to solve it, you are lowering the scope of the problem, making the problem much clearer (at least in many cases), and doing a good job of demonstrating research effort in trying to solve the problem. When you omit the larger details the question often becomes less clear, and it also risks the readers solving a smaller problem that doesn't actually help you solve the larger problem.
As an addition: If there's a lot to explain, be sure to structure it well: First a really short description of your whole problem, and an equally concise description of the smaller step. Then, a thorough explanation of them both, as well as how you come from the big problem to the small step. Make sure those sections are easy to find just scanning the post.
 Deduplicator

11As an addition: If there's much to explain, be sure to structure it good: First a really short description of your whole problem, and an equally concise description of the smaller step (Probably neither more than a single sentence, remember that's your excerpt shown on the questionlists, so every character is precious). Then, a thorough explanation of them both, as well as how you come from big problem to small step. Make sure those sections are easily to find just scanning the post. Mar 9 '15 at 17:16

1@Deduplicator I was thinking I should say something about that, but I was lazy and didn't bother; thanks for writing it up; I included it in the post as it is a common mistake.– ServyMar 9 '15 at 17:20

One extra thing, links and images (if you have enough rep) also can help a lot for understanding what you are talking about.– TurnerjMar 10 '15 at 3:11

5Not only does Servy's approach reduce the chances of the question from being closed as too broad, it almost entirely eliminates the risk of the XY problem.– PM 2RingMar 10 '15 at 7:50