I wouldn't say "specifically" exactly, but that is certainly one VERY handy use. (At one point today; I smiled when I realized there were a dozen collapsed threads in a row. How many time would I have read those same titles in the past, only to pass them by anyway?) At the same time; thumbing it up guarantees you'll always see it, no matter how many vote it down or how you set your navigation.
Another use is pushing spam or useless posts to the bottom... and interesting content to the top... specifically for the good of the community. (Say a well liked member has a problem: I would want to push that number up to alert more members that some kind words might be in order…even if I’ve already posted and don’t plan to again.)
The other day Nimh made a post about Bloomberg getting the necessary sigs to run in VA. I didn't have anything to add, but knew other members would find it interesting so I thumbed it up. I think this also gives some recognition to Nimh, that in the past would have only been a "view".
I also saw a post thread that amounted to "this candidate sucks" with no real information whatsoever. By thumbing it down, it:
A. Gets knocked out of my sight
B. Alerts members that the post isn't worth reading
C. Alerts the poster that his submission was not well taken. In the past; in order to voice disapproval, you were forced to feed the troll (bump his post). Now when you disapprove; you actually reduce the troll's effectiveness rather than increasing it.
I already find myself drawn to the high positives, to see what the fuss is about, but then I make up my own mind. While I don’t necessarily agree with what the members vote up; I've noticed I do generally concur with what it votes down.
I don't think people with out of the norm interests should have trouble accepting that this alone is probably why their threads aren't highly rated. It is a shame that some will take it personally, but not so much so as to forfeit all the good that comes from the new system. I love it.