Forum OpenACS Development: Meaning of last_modified column of forums_messages and in general?

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I was looking into Bug #772 'Show last_modified date in search results'. Trying to simply display the value of the last_modified column of acs_objects turned out not to be the desired solution, since Don added a colum 'last_child_post' to the forums_messages table and removed the update of last_modified on thread modification.

I wonder if it wouldn't be possible in this particular case to partially revert back to the old behaviour and update last_modified of a forums_message that represents a thread start everytime a child is posted. The problem here is that in forums, the message object is not only representing a message, but sometimes also some kind of 'thread' object which requires different treatment by search to produce meaningful search results. I think that the search results (as seen on have become better since indexing was changed from treating each message as a single item to summarizing threads as items to index. But that meant relying to a certain extent on the existance of a 'thread' object. Would that change break some definition of last_modified that is unknown to me?

The other solution would be to add a last_modified to the output of the search service contract, which seems somehow wrong to me since there is this general column in acs_objects which propably makes sense for most objects.