I know this question may sound stupid, but I read somewhere that duplicate content is based on the title and snippet and not on the whole page.
Lets see. When googlebots sipide pages, they can raise flags for certain spamming issues, but as far as I understand, the bots canīt the content with other pages. So duplicate pages can be indexed.
Then, I suppose that the duplicate content is checked at the moment a visitor makes a search at google site. So it makes sense that the duplicate content is mainly observed by google in the title and snippet which is the one thing that is made visible to the user prior to the click.
There can be duplicate content (datafeeds for example) but with different titles or text surrounding it. The same way you can have similar titles all over the site and similar surrounding text, but the content is quite different from page to page.
So, what does Google exactly means with duplicate content? Is it a matter of showing clean search results (title and snippets) to visitors or is it a more in depth analysis of the page?
I have a client that is a Real Estate agent with a new site and that area is VERY competitive. His competitors are using similar dishonest means to rank high --spamming the meta tags, linking to link farms, etc., and most of them are associated with a RE link exchange co. that promotes the same. I'm encouraging him to keep his site clean and hang in there and just find more quality links and google will hopefully get rid of the fluff soon. Yes, I'm a dreamer :o)