I remember one of the sites I have used, may be CodeCademy, had this feature where at each topic, it would display a few links about the topic in the forum and would also provide a summary of posts about that topic.
For example, now I am on this page
if it can display something like below, it might help:
10 total posts in the forum on this exercise with 2 still open (please click to give a hand if you have finished) .
OR (No posts in the forum - be the first one to create).
example1 - i am stuck here on the fourth task
example2 - only one test case is failing, but can't figure out why
This is just an outline - the core team can decide the format - when I click the link to create a new post, it should fill up some metadata that links the post back to the exercise.