they should notify you and either refund your money or be willing to work with you to correct it.
I don't think Inktomi or anyone should be forced to refund money to people who use unethical SEO tactics. That's the equivalent of someone saying that they should get their money refunded after being kicked out of a movie theater for causing a disturbance.
Taking money for what amounts to nothing is highly unprofessional at best and in fact bordering on downright fraudulent
So is keyword stuffing, joining link farms, multiple content, and other shady SEO tactics/strategies.
justifying a class action suit (anyone listening out there?)!
That's going a bit overboard, but I don't think you'd stand a chance in court, especially if their Terms Of Service were violated.
If there is something like a duplicate penalty, how difficult is it to report "you have a second copy of your page at: **** and once we determine it has been removed, notify us and we'll immediately re-spider." Or, page x has content which some readers may find objectionable".
If YOU were at Inktomi, would YOU want to be the guy in charge of hunting down the people with editorial actions and getting a hold of them via phone or email?
you complain which says "[Ha-ha] We never guaranteed WHERE your page would be ranked, based upon various terms...visit our optimization criteria section... yada, yada [guess about it, hit or miss, get lost, scram, we just wanted your dough]".
Yeah... I'm sure the people high up at Inktomi will just do anything to exert their power rather than make money.
Does anyone know how these penalties are even initiated?
For the most part, human editors take care of that. But in the case of multiple content, it's usually just caught by the spider.
Could a competitor submit a spam claim and Inktomi, just glances at it and says, "OK".
in which case it should go away when things are corrected (heh, like Inktomi EVER re-indexes old FREE pages - and don't bother trying to submit a 301 redirected page to get the old one OUT of the index)?
Usually, webmasters of websites with editorial actions against them don't stop their shady tactics. In other words : once a spammer, always a spammer.
If it's a duplicate penalty, what's to say the OTHER copy of a page on a different domain is not the duplicate?
At which point, popularity of the page and domain comes into play. If the content is really that good, it'll have lots of incoming links to either the page itself or the domain that the content resides on.
The way others talk it is manually initiated and only manually removed anyway.
What if you bought a new domain which had been previously abused by someone else and had no clue it was already penalized or that such was even possible?
Normally, the penalty still stands. Why would you want to buy a domain name with an already tarnished image, anyhow?
Or allowed your site to be penalized after you set it up, by some incompetent SEO and now want to do it right?
That's why you shouldn't have incompetent SEO companies do SEO for you in the first place. But, in that case, you'll have to contact Inktomi yourself.
The average innocent public should not have to deal with this sort of thing, and I think it will not be long before someone big enough (or a bored attorney with a website that it happens to) feels wronged.
In other words, it'll never happen, not because they don't want to sue Inktomi, but because they don't have any ground to stand on.