Hi BurnerBob. Many thanks for your feedback.
We’re currently trying to build an experience on economist.com that allows you to do some of the things you outlined below.
At present, the only way you can really point something out that you disagree with is via our old comments system, which as you have already noticed, isn’t the best place for civil debate.
In lieu of that, you can leave your comments on our official Medium page.
With the exception of Quora Q&As or submitting letters to the editor, we don’t have a solution to your problem (but we’re working on it and I appreciate your feedback!)
I’d also recommend posing some of your questions to editors and correspondents, many of whom are on Twitter. If they can’t answer your question, they may be able to point you in the direction of the author of the piece.
Hope this helps!