ActiveRain is all about active CONVERSATIONS and that is a very cool thing. Because of the point system, people have incentive to make comments. (25 points ea., up to 10 comments for credit per day for comments you make on blog posts which aren't your own)
I blogged for a while outside of ActiveRain and quickly lost interest in creating new articles. I did get comments but they were all SPAM. These are the comments where people leave the same generic comment on a bazillion blogs hoping to get clicks for their URL. But as you know AR is different. There is a huge and thriving community where people will actually read your article and then post a comment that shows they are interested! So I've found that the point system is a great incentive but that it doesn't diminish the value in the comments that you get.
So now let's talk about joining the conversation.
First of all, don't just do "great post" and walk away. You don't even get credit for that as there is a 50 character minimum for points. So instead, say something specific about what you have read - something in particular that you learned. That only takes a couple of sentences but makes the conversation so much more interesting.
The other types of comments are in the forms of questions OR adding supplemental information OR adding a personal experience to back what the blogger is saying. When you leave these types of comments, then you often have a sense of I would like to "follow the conversation" as it builds. There are several ways to follow a conversation - let me show you how.
The first and probably most obvious way, is to click the option to "notify me of new comments" - when you do that, then the "subscribe" button will appear and you need to click it to activate where the system will watch and email you when new comments come in on that particular post. Notifications can be easily turned off later. On the left side nav menu of your "My Home" page (near the bottom, you will see "Notifications". That gives you a list of your active watches. Simply click the red icon next to the one(s) that you want to stop watching.
If you've been in AR for a while, that's probably not new to you. As you know, to subscribe to a post usually means that your inbox will be very busy that day! (especially if you've just commented on a featured post) Let me give you a couple more ideas that you can use to help you watch conversations without actually subscribing to them (and thus contain your inbox from overflowing).
One thing you might consider is using the "My Comments" menu item (on the left nav of your "My Home" page) This shows you only the comments you've MADE (whereas your home page shows comments made and received). If you check this list, you can go back to get updates on the pages you commented on to see what was said after you left.
The other suggestion that I have (for your consideration) is to create shortcuts to the pages that you want to come back to later to check up on progress. In your browser's address bar there is a little icon directly alongside the page address. You can drag this icon off of your browser and drop it as a shortcut. The first inclination is to put it on your desktop. Ok... but after a few of these and how messy will your desktop be? Why not be one notch more organized? I have created a "watch" folder on my desktop that I drop these shortcuts into. After a while, I clean out the old references and what's left is just the most recent ones.
Note that when you first drop off a shortcut like this, the name of the shortcut will be the title of the article. I take an extra few seconds and rename mine to the author's name so I better recall who I am watching.