jakebohall - 1:58 pm on May 28, 2013 (gmt 0)
Unfortunately we are at a point where negative SEO can/does work, and I'm hopeful that the effects of negative link development will be short-lived.
In my experience, if you have any "spammy" links that are under your control, you should go ahead and pull them down or no-follow them. You would be surprised by the number of webmasters that will remove links... In full disclosure, I work for an agency that developed Remove'em, which is a link removal service, and I know we typically get between 50-70% of bad links removed just by emailing the webmasters.
My standing recommendation for those trying to recover from penalties is to try and remove as many bad / spammy links as possible, and then take what you can get removed and put into a disavow file.. and then reference both in a recon request.
There are definitely mixed opinions on using disavow, as many believe you are seeding the next pengiun, you are admitting guilt, or that you are letting Google use you to crowdsource their spam team... I all about doing what I have to do to get the reconsideration request through... If you feel opposed to using the disavow tool, then try the reconsideration request without it and see if you can get approved.
As far as tracking spammy links, I just take a quick look ever couple of weeks to make sure that nothing crazy is happening. So much is completely out of our control as webmasters. I just watch and make sure nothing egregious is happening.