I don't know what it is called. On some sites when you put your cursor over the topic it shows you the first line or question of that topic. This allows you to review without actually opening that topic.
I don't think that the forum software we use provides that feature....but I can research it a bit. We can set up RSS Feeds for those that like to get a feed for their e-mail client or Yahoo/Google home page if that would be of interest.