I have used the WebmasterWorld site search tool and although I have found some threads discussing this very same question, they are 4/5+ years old.
I was wondering if some of you could share your thoughts on how to identify the characteristics of a site penalty that would require a Google "request reconsideration" vs a filter that may be lifted just by cleaning up some errors.
Even a true penalty can often be escaped in an automated manner. The kind of "clear characteristics" you are hoping for are hard to give, because the line between what is manual and what is automated keeps moving - Google prefers automation, even in the area of penalties, because it's a more scalable approach.
A good example is the dust storm that Google kicked up about paid links. In the beginning the penalties were all manual, but relatively soon a good bit became automated.
The issues involved, whether they tripped a filter, a manual penalty or an automated penalty, only give you a better website when you address them. And there's no reason to fear submitting a reconsideration request if you've made a good faith effort to fix the problems.
We were hit by a penalty/tripped a filter in December, someone unwittingly changed the anchor text in the header of 8 sister sites to our main site which resulted in our homepage not ranking for our 2 main search terms (having been in the top 4 for about 8 years). After fixing it the homepage came back for these 2 terms after 12 days but we came back in at 8th having been 4th and have been bouncing around at the bottom of page one for almost 2 weeks.
Other similar search terms and other big terms held their ranking while this was going on and didn't experience any drops - has anyone else experienced anything similar after a penalty or have any ideas on this?