I know about these optoins, but do not want email--- I would drown.
I do check in regularly and look at the topics.
in the first collum you see a round icon (circle / plate / whatever) - that gets a little "extra" loop... like a planet and a moon ...
just look at it, after you posted somewhere... like that you can see if you have posts in a threat. That helps, too.
an icon that changes more visibly would be prefered by me... but, oh well.
I get along really well, and every once in while I mark all forums as read and therefore clear the bold print out for the past.
Oh, and of course you can have private talk in the private messages. just select that method and you can write "emails" inside the page. The replys go to your inbox and you can write straight back.