What exactly happens when I subscribe to a thread? Benefits?

I see this option at the bottom of pages here and I am unsure what it means. What happens when I subscribe to a thread? Are there benefits to subscribing to a thread? If so what are they?

Well, if you act now, you get this handsome sports watch, capable of telling the time in one different language and accurate to one hour. If you insist, we’ll throw in absolutely free this faux diamond pendant with “SDMB” emblazoned on the front. We’ll also give you our world-famous Story of America[sup]tm[/sup] cards - find out if the cheetah really is the fastest land animal!

Operators are standing by. Subscribe now!
PS: To answer the question, “nothing” and “no.” At least, not for me. I’ve noticed nothing.

Don’t listen to him Antiquarian. Forget the “handsome sports watch”.

I use subscriptions extensively. It allows me to track threads that either I’ve participated in, or those that I want to follow the discussion even though I haven’t participated.

For example, I may want to follow an Iraq debate in GD. But since my debating skills are minimal I don’t post in the thread itself. By subscribing, I get an email notification every time a new post appears in the thread.

I can click on the link in the email at my leisure and catch-up with the discussion.

On the other hand, subscribing to a forum doesn’t seem to work.

And for some reason, when I do subscribe to a thread or click the email notification box, I do not always get an email.

In this matter, dantheman speaks wisdom. I have no idea what subscribing to a forum might do. I suspect it might email you with every new post in the forum? Holy barrage Batman!

Perhaps I’ll experiment. Not here though. The hamsters have been particularly lazy lately. I’ve implemented vBulletin at our company and I can experiment there.

Regarding the reliability of thread subscriptions, I find them as reliable (or not) as checking the “email notification” box when posting.

I actually subscribed to ATMB a long while back, but nothing ever happened. (It does show up in my CP as a subscribed forum, though.)

It’s been mentioned before that forum subscriptions are disabled, in the sense that they don’t actually do anything. You think the email you’d get from a subscription to GQ would be bad, imagine the server load.