tigger - 3:16 pm on Sep 1, 2000 (gmt 0)
At long last I have been able to track down my contact at Inktomi UK!
According to him, the current state of play with the database is that it is up and running again, however the algorithms have been changed. I did ask him for any clues and of course he was unable to give me any info :(
He did say, however, that Inktomi are doing their best to eliminate all spamming and make searches relevent to the keyword/phrase entered.
I did ask him about my existing rankings and my collegues :) that the only way these could be found was by doing an exact match search and he replied that over time these will raise in ranking.
I asked him about the pay for submissions and he said that unfortunately he didn't have any idea on the charging structure but knew that it would be implemented shortly.