I seem to have fixed the issue that was prompting phantom posts to appear.
The issue was resolved by modifying the mysql query that determines how many posts should be counted as replies to a given post. Previously, a root_id would be assigned to a post only if it was a reply to an original post, which didn't need the root_id named because its root_id was obvious. Revising the site, I set things up so that edited posts now reference a root_id, which meant that the post was now being tagged as a reply even though there was no obvious indication of that when I gave things a casual look.
The good news is that posts have always had 'message' or 'reply' designation, so the fix was as simple as modifying the query so that it only counted as a reply those posts that had specifically been labeled as a 'reply.' It was a minor tweak that I had to make on four or five pages, but now things seem to be working as they should... but with the benefit of the sexier URLs.
I'm glad that I was able to resolve this now, because here in about 3 minutes I'll be getting to work on a project unrelated to HG that will likely keep me extremely busy for the next two weeks. It's nice not to be leaving behind loose ends as I shift my attention to that project.
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