Perhaps a Category configurable option to append the Topic (not overwriting what’s already written) with the template and a nag dialogue to reformat before submitting.
I’d rather, for some cases, the users were guided strongly to do this, and I’m up for making it harder to submit Topics in that area of the site if they don’t follow those steps, just to police the content in that Category.
This is great conversation. Another obvious issue with the template copy is that the forum’s users can range in their ability to understand that the text will remain in their post, unless written-over or deleted. This creates inconsistencies with formatting, and ultimately can create inconsistencies with the topic information across the category. Additionally, in some cases, a forum may find value in having hard requirements for some information to be present in the post, and furthermore, for information to be staged/presented within the topic rigidly. I’ve always felt that a topic creation form would solve these problems, but I understand that is either not doable, or there is not enough demand.
Regarding what populates in the topic editor, as a function of category selection, could this be solved by giving the forum owner the option of making the topic editing area state some copy (i.e., You must select a category first, before posting your topic), then depending on the category selected the template copy is populated (yes, I know, without a form option, unfortunately)?