Thanks very much for your input and rest assured your comments do not fall on deaf ears. We discussed this topic at our editorial meeting yesterday and will be working to find a solution that works better than the current system.
The history of comments goes like this: In the beginning, we would link through at the bottom of front page magazine articles to a forum thread in the Article Discussion forum for conversation. There were no comments visible on the front page. We then moved to a system that allowed us to auto-populate front page comments from a forum thread. Most recently, we moved to the current system, which separates the magazine and the forum comments.
When we implemented the current system, we had intended for it to be a lot easier to sign in and do your thing, and for the ability to sign up for comments without having a forum account. Unfortunately with that new system, the syndication of comments to a forum thread was not an option. This had its positives and negatives; the negatives are well covered in this thread.
One issue that did exist was some people (the usual suspects?) were having a tendency to get into the same old arguments on threads in the Article Discussion forum, which resulted in many of the front page magazine articles having a negative, argumentative tone in the comments. With the current system I can say that while the number of comments has decreased, the number of inane arguments has gone down to pretty much zero.
One of the bigger problems in my opinion and kp nailed it in the first post is that it's quite difficult to keep track of your comments and responses to them. The forum gives the ability to do that, but forums are also very old technology. Many sites are using Facebook login now, which would also track your comments but that comes with its own can of worms, right?
We had hoped the implementation of the new commenting system would be simpler; it turned out to be a bit clunky, and had some bugs we weren't anticipating. We don't like that. It went in at the same time as we started with a new back end content management system, so there were a lot of other bugs to work out at that time many of them more crucial to delivering daily magazine content.
As it so happens, we are currently in the process of doing another update on the back end. The conversation about comment system is open. Please feel free to continue to drop in with your thoughts.