Maybe these are a stupid ideas IDK/
MOD APPROVAL 3RD BUTTON
When approving content via site moderation, have a third button:
Approve but don't notify.
Maybe the content is spammy but not spammy enough to delete.
So the content is approved but none of the followers get a notification.
As the admin, you've determined that the content is on the borderline of being acceptable and you'll approve it, but not send a notification.
Reply in the thread still get notified of replies if they follow the topic. Just people who follow the forum wouldn't get notified on that initial thread creation.
It can still be promoted via the promotions button.
MEMBER NOTIFY OPTION
Maybe a step further, have an option for when a member creates a thread to allow them to decide to notify people or not.
The thread owner would be able to decide if they wanted people to be notified about their thread or not. I know some members who would love be stealth and not notify people about their new thread - to reduce the amount of instant trolling the thread would receive. Giving supporters to make a few posts at the top of the thread, before the haters. With notification they know right away when any thread is created, if they are following the forum.
This could also be used if you were running a giveaway or something that you didn't want people notified about. They'd only see the content if they physically came to the site.
Just throwing it out there.