Why do the various comment sections often have fewer comments than the number listed at the beginning?
I believe that's because the comment "counter" counts comments from users who have been blocked as well as those who haven't. So commenters who continue to post even after they've been blocked still get their comments counted. Also, comments that have been manually deleted by an ADN administrator may also continue to show up in the count.
Is it really that people are hitting the "abuse" button to eliminate comments that aren't flattering to Sarah Palin or is it a site malfunction?
It's not a software malfunction. If a comment collects enough abuse reports, it gets hidden and goes into a queue for review. That system works pretty well when the abuse reporting feature is used legitimately. What's been happening lately is that a very small group of Sarah Palin "defenders" have made a collective effort to hide comments unfavorable to the governor. When we see this in the review queue, we unhide those comments.
Also, sometimes I make a comment to an article and it won't post, but on a different article, my comment will post. Why is that?
I'm not aware of this. The most likely explanation is that you are having an occasional comment manually deleted for some reason. If you can post any comment, you are not blocked.
I see a lot of negative speculation about the causes of the aforementioned questions, but I would like to know straight from you what the reasons are.
Thank you for your time.
You're welcome. I'm happy to try to answer your questions and hear your suggestions for improvement.