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Are you doing any Joins? as it sounds like you have a one-to-many relationship on the joins so Tableau (well any database) will create many more rows than you expect (or want)
Oh, of course. That makes sense.
It seems my other issue (indefinite extract creation) was due to a lack of disk space. Sometimes Tableau tells me it's out of space, but sometimes it just sits there churning and doesn't complain.