(Editor’s Note: this story first appeared in the March 4, 2013 version of The Newsletter.)

Today is a big day. It’s the formal launch of our newest project, halfwheel.com/forum. The main objective is simple, we want to have a place to talk about cigars of all kinds. We love the level of depth we have in the comments of our news stories and reviews, but there are some limitations; limitations that can be overcome by a forum.

We spent time research and debating what we wanted the forum to look like, how we wanted to function and what we wanted to do. Technically and visually we’ve created something that we think fits halfwheel as well as can be—and the user interface is top-notch.

When we were working on launching the blog, we asked a lot of questions of how not only to do things differently, but trying to do things better. With the forum, those same questions were asked at every level and the answers were a lot harder to figure out. Ultimately, we’ve divided the board into five simple categories that we think are essential to creating the discussions and experience we were after.

After making your account—which is different than the Livefyre account you need to comment on articles from the blog—there’s an introductions section for you to introduce yourself. You must post there before you are able to post anywhere else, so it is the best place to start. We then have three other sections you’ll immediately see: a place to talk about cigarsa place to talk about everything that is not cigars and a place to ask us—the halfwheel staff—questions and or make note of any issues you have or changes you’d like to see. There’s a fifth section that requires 30 posts to both see and post in, a marketplace for you to buy, sell and trade cigars, as well as a place for our retail sponsors to post any special deals.

Our goal is simple, we want to raise the level of discussion that takes place about cigars. We are going to work hard to make sure that our forum is a place where consumers can interact with manufacturers and retailers about everything, not just cigars. It’s a daunting task, one that has been tried before, but it’s one we think is worth undertaking in order to create the space we’ve always wanted as far as cigar forums go.

The key to the forum is you. All four of us as parts of the halfwheel staff will be around, but the discussions are going to be the discussions you want to have. We ask that you invest a little bit of time particularly in our early stages and post.

Much like with The Newsletter, we will be giving away a box of cigars to a user each month. There will be a thread in the cigars subsection each month with details of the box. All you need to do to be eligible is to post in that specific thread. Up first, a box of Liga Privada Único Serie UF-13 Darks compliments of sponsor Drew Estate.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.