I don't want email notifications. Period. EVER.
I also agree "posting for updates" keeps the OP informed that people want updates.
Huge POD to this. No way do I want any more emails hitting my inbox, especially on a very active thread.
Now, if there were a way to select certain threads that could appear in a specific "unread" list even though you hadn't posted to them, that would be cool.
And yes, "posting for updates" keeps the thread active and does really indicate that there is further interest to keep the thread going.
I honestly don't see what's bothersome about them. They take about 2 seconds to read, then scroll on by. And I don't really remember ever seeing a dozen of them in a thread, at least not consecutively. I don't think I've seen more than maybe three or four consecutively. Yeah, there may be a bunch spread out through the thread but again, they really aren't much of a nuisance to me. I have to admit, I've never given them a second thought till this discussion popped up.