Then when the big corporation took over, things went downhill.
Just as a point of clarification. There was never a point where "the big corporation" took over. Macworld has always been run by IDG. Nothing has changed.
I'm confused about your comment regarding first comments. At the bottom of each story is a comment field. Type your comment and click Submit. That doesn't work for you? (Or in reviews you click the comment link at the bottom of the review to be taken to the appropriate thread.)
Maybe I don't understand what you're getting at, but I have no problem commenting on stories, even when it's the first comment.