1. Disqus. Advantages: We all already know it. Disadvantages: Nanny filter (possibly). Discussions deleted after 7 days by Disqus.
SPOKE TOO SOON ON THIS. SORRY. It turns out that you can't create any new channels. Their documentation talks about how to do it, but you can't actually do it anymore. Instead, you have to find a channel where you already fit, and do your discussions there. THANK YOU SO MUCH, DISQUS, FOR NOT UPDATING YOUR DOCUMENTATION.
1 Alt. We migrate en masse to The Atlantic discussion group on Disqus, as recommended by johnny sunshine.
2. Bravenet. Advantages: Pick the way you want to view the discussions (topics). This includes a threaded view. Disadvantages: We have to trim posts once we get to 1000, but this will probably be less frequent than Disqus. When you're reading the messages, they aren't threaded as they are in Disqus, but they do have an easy-to-follow order.
3. Boardhost. Advantages: Best batch of tools for formatting and managing. Unlimited number of posts and visits. Disadvantages: No threading. The list of responses is simply chronological, so you can't reply to a specific comment without copying their comment into yours, and your reply gets put at the end of the list.
All these services are free, for now. All let people start new topic discussions, so any of us could start a new topic thread. All have admin tools. All have advertising, but I didn't get to see if it's annoying or not.
So, everyone, please discuss and say what you prefer. If anyone has other suggestions, please do the exploration of the features and let us know. It's certainly possible that there are better free services out there, but I don't have the time to hunt them down. Plus it has been aggravating. (Oh, you want threading, well, PAY UP!)
ALL COMMENTS ON THIS ISSUE BELOW, NOT ON OTHER POSTS.