I couldn't finds a place to ask a question about the Forum web site, so I picked this one. I've noticed at times (like when I checked today) that the Last Post date for a particular topic might be a recent date, but when I click on the topic and check the posts, the most recent one is several months ago. Does anyone know why this happens?
I'm speculating, but I believe they are setting the last update (probably by a database trigger) for any update or delete to a post. It would be better if they used the max date as determined from the dates displayed in the various posts in the thread. At least, that would explain why the delete of spam changes the date.
It is a quirk of the system. Any time anyone either posts new information or edits a prior posting the last date of posting in updated.
I've used this "quirk" in the past to bring my OPs about the Denver meeting to the top. I don't even have to make a change to my original post, just open it for editing and close it, and the time and date updates to the present.
However, I occasionally see an old post pop up with a current time and date, but none of the postings on the thread match the date on the listing for the forum. I don't know if this is an anomaly in the system or due to someone deleting a post.
If I remember there has sometimes been ghost posts popping up and the webmaster said they were doing something that accidentally made that happen.
Thanks everyone for the info. Now I understand.
There are occasional spammers to the RS boards - they may reply to a lot of posts at once with a single spam message. Even though the spam message gets removed, the thread may still show the date of the spam post as the most recent date for the thread.
Andrew H is on the right track, but it's slightly more subtle than that.
When a reply is added/edited/removed, it notifies the associated topic of this change to update its "updated" time to match this and reflect that a change has occurred to the topic thread. Spam posts used to trigger this functionality, and that was fixed to properly update the time to reflect the last visible reply when the spam post was detected and removed.
However, that bug hasn't been fixed yet for when a user manually deletes their reply, which explains this odd behaviour you see. Sometimes it seems that users will decide to delete vast swathes of their replies manually, which you can see manifested with the seemingly incorrect timestamps. I have a bug filed for this behaviour.