Often for people who are not used to online discussions forums the thought of posting your first topic can be a scary one. One sure way to make a poor first impression with a community is to join then just post your question. The reality is most likely your question has already been asked many times so here are a few key recommendations when posting a discussion topic in any community and most importantly how to name your topic.
[h2]Search the forums[/h2]
The search tool of any online community is your best friend so use it and see what others have posted. If you are not finding what your looking for then you can use google to search a site by doing the following. Type the domain name into the google search box "www.cheftalk.com" and the hit the tab button. If your using google chrome browser you will see the following:

Your google search will now target only the site your interested in. 

If you find a topic but still have questions post a reply to the thread and it will bubble up to the top of the discussions. Others will see this and hopefully get involved. If you don't get an answer to your thread send a message to a moderator and ask them if they know of someone in the community that could reply or help you out. If your new to the community then chances are the mods know just to person to connect you with.
[h2]Name Your Topic Properly[/h2]
So you did your due diligence but found nothing so feel free to start the topic. First start by making sure your in the appropriate forum to start the discussion. You certainly don't want to start talking about lobster if you are in the chef knife forums it will only frustrate the mods and other members and require them to move the thread.

Naming your thread is more important than you realize. Think about others who might also be looking for help with that topic what would they most likely search for. So here are a few examples of what not to do and what to do.
[h3] [/h3][h3]Example 1: User named their thread: [/h3]
[h3] Question about lobster tails[/h3]
But look at what they posted:
 I would like to read some input about lobster tails for cooking on the grill. I live in Seattle and the most common variety available here is rock lobster
So a few options for naming this thread better would be:
  • [h3]Advice on how to grill rock lobster tails[/h3]
  • [h3]Recommended Methods for grilling Rock Lobster Tails[/h3]
[h3]Example 2:  User named their thread:[/h3]
 seafood lasagna
Their post says:
 Have another cooking question from you all. Cooking light has a seafood lasagna recipe that calls for taking raw shrimp and after you make a stock with the shells you cut the shrimps in half and layer them with the rest of the ingredients but the shrimp are raw as they go in. The dish cooks at 375 for 40 minutes and then rests for 15 before cutting . My question is will the shrimp get done going in raw in a seafood lasagna .
A better way to name this thread might be:
  • [h3]Is it safe to add raw shrimp to seafood lasagna?[/h3]
  • [h3]Safest method for adding raw shrimp to seafood lasagna?[/h3]
  • [h3]Should I cook shrimp before adding it to seafood lasagna?[/h3]

Are you getting the idea? When you title your thread this way it really helps the community you are coming to for answers in a number of ways.
  1. Helps other members find the topic more easily
  2. Helps the site by creating a useful topic name that non-members can find via a search query and hopefully become a member of the community
  3. Avoids thread duplication and the unnecessary repeat of the same topic because no one could find what they were looking for.
  4. Many sites use content based ads to support the upkeep of the site. Naming your thread properly is a small way you can give back to the community without actually shelling out any cash. The better title you give the thread the more relevant ads will show up and keep that site going for years to come.
[h2]Last but not least... Tag that thread![/h2]
What is tagging? Well it is a way to add a little more what they call "meta data" to the discussion so that it is even easier for users to find. On ChefTalk if you are a posting a discussion topic regarding a specific product then please tag the thread with that product. ChefTalk has some excellent tagging tools and all members are encouraged to use them. Here are two articles to help you understand tagging a bit more.
[article="19613"]Tagging Tutorial [/article][article="28116"]Best Practices In Tagging [/article]
Like naming your thread properly tagging your threads is another small way to give back to your community. If you have questions please post them in the comments below.