Jason, I wrote a post about this last week and then deleted it because I didn’t think I was explaining it well. I think what I wrote below is clearer.
The “Last Post” column and the “Newest Posts” (at the bottom of the page) do not reflect the “last post” or “newest posts”. They only reflect the “last topic” started and “newest topics” started.
So, when one comes to the forum, if no one has posted a new topic, it looks like there has been no activity. The only way to see if someone posted a reply to a topic is to click on that topic and look.
I am and have been a member of a lot of forums. I have never seen one function like this. The norm is to have “Latest Posts and or “Newest Posts” reflect new topics started AND new replies to topics. This is usually done by a highlighted symbol or by the text itself being highlighted so members know immediately that there has been a new topic or reply made in a forum area. I have also seen it done other ways, but this is the most common for most forum software.
IMHO, I think the way the FiddleHed forum functions makes members really have to hunt for replies, which is time consuming. I think it may also diminish participation in the forum.
I don’t know if the present WordPress Forum plugin will allow “replies” to be seen “at a glance” and not have to be hunted down, but I think if it does, it would help out a lot.