Actually, that’s precisely the point. In the first community which comes to mind they have 20+ wordpress posts per day, where the site owners don’t want anyone seeing those posts appear in /latest because the community side moves much slower. Doing so would kill the little discussion that does exist. Discourse only handles article comments at all because they don’t want commenters to end up with a separate account, plus commenting means they’ve joined the community and will see community emails as a result of pretty much any interaction.
They do use muting elsewhere, but they like others are still waiting for the ability to mandate categories which are muted or followed at a group level without reaching into the database. Discourse-watch-category looked as if it might offer that functionality down the line if it was ever expanded on, but a two year long PM chain I had from Arpit concluded that this feature would arrive in core to replace it.
As it stands the plugin looks to be the only way if the above goes into effect, but last I checked the group and category is hard-coded into the plugin. It also didn’t support multiple groups and still only handles categories to watch, not suppress.
That’s a lot of running around in circles all because a checkbox might be going away.