Hey there @realm174! I’m a few hours late to the party here, but I wanted to chime in regardless. Your mentioning that the difference between the black and gray coloring is hard to distinguish on your monitor is concerning to me. While I have not heard of problems with the colors before, it is possible the Discourse devs have. Going to ping @system and @system from the Discourse team for you, they may want more details…
Also want to clarify what @Relyss said above about notification types. First, this is all regarding watching/tracking categories. What this means is for each and every new topic created in a category, your selected notification type will be applied. This is not applied retroactively to existing topics.
When you are watching a topic, you will receive a notification (blue circle on your user avatar) for every new post, including the first post (aka new topic). Additionally, the topic will appear in the “unread” section, and you will receive an email ~15 minutes after the notification assuming your email preferences are set to the default.
When you are tracking a topic, you will not receive a notification or an email. The topic will simply appear in the “unread” section whenever there is a new post.
For normal topics, they will simply be displayed in the latest view, sorted by order of most recent reply.
For all topics you have not muted, you will receive a notification if someone replies directly to your post, or mentions your name. If you are also watching the category, you may get multiple notifications (1 for the reply itself, another for the mention/quote).
Finally, by default, you will be watching any topic you create (like this one), and tracking any topic you reply to.