The view showing the latest topics and posts can be hard to understand. If you are Watching or Tracking the posts in a topic, you may see a list of topics that looks like this:
If you leave your preferences set to the defaults (not Watching or Tracking any topics or categories), then once you read all the posts in a topic, the title for that topic is displayed in gray text. Topics with unread posts are shown in black text. If there is more than one unread post in a topic, the number of unread posts is displayed in a blue circle. So far, this is pretty understandable.
However, it gets confusing if you change your preferences for a topic or category to Watching or Tracking. You might want to do this if you want the site to send you an e-mail message whenever a new post is made. When you’re Watching a topic, the forum tracks whether you’ve read any new posts and also whether you’ve dismissed the notifications for the new posts. If a topic contains either unread new posts or undismissed notifications, the title is displayed in black text. If there is more than one undismissed notification for new posts, the number of undismissed notifications is shown in a gray circle to the right of the title.
To dismiss notifications for topics you’re Watching, click the Unread button to see the list of topics.
Then click “Dismiss…” (circled in red in the above image), which will cause this dialog to appear:
and click the Dismiss button. After clicking Dismiss, you will no longer see gray circles with numbers after topics and only topics with unread posts will appear with black titles.