I was royally confused about the sudden inability to reply using the forums, until I found this discussion!
Since you are developing new features, perhaps you can put the Emoticon System into the new mod page comment editing bars? So we can call up emoticons.
One of the benefits of the old Forum approach was easy access to Emoticons, which enabled Asperger-types like me to deliver or receive the right interpretation of peoples' comments. (emoticon to express delight at forthcoming features....!)
This is actually a bit more difficult than it sounds, but it's on a future improvement list. We'll either do that or at some point we'll make it so our comments support Unicode emoji.