The Globe's forums provide continuity across news items that comments otherwise lack. However, most of the Globe forum features vanished with changes in early fall, 2012. Displays of recent comments on four news index pages stopped, collapsing the forums they had carried. "National News" used to get 20 or more messages a day but got its last message 11 days ago, as of this writing.

Many options to format comments and the abilities to preview and edit comments and to insert images were also lost. Even the ability to separate comments into paragraphs disappeared. More recently, that has been repaired for comments logged with the boston.com site but not for those logged with the bostonglobe.com site. Paragraph separation with the latter has been erratic, working once in a while but most often not.

It's clear current Globe business managers, together with nostalgic writers including Brian McGrory, keep pining for a return of paper readers, but that is highly unlikely. Instead, they should be planning how to attract and retain on-line readers and how to earn more revenue from their Web sites. Turning off on-line readers by abandoning and mangling comment features won't help matters.