"People post around here about filters, blocking, penalties, etc. etc. A far better explanation is 'things which used to work before don't receive the same amount of credit now.'"
A far better explanation from whose point of view. When pages that previously ranked number 1 drop to below 500 (450 results past anything remotely relevant to the search query) as happened to thousands during Florida and Austin, the ONLY explanation is a penalty* of some sort. Unless you were to change the sentence to read
'things which used to work before don't receive the same amount of credit now and can void out the credit you get from having words on your page, in your titles, in your alt text, and in link text pointing at your page. '
or when we add 64.xx into the equation we could perhaps say.
'things which used to work before don't receive the same amount of credit now, but they will again by Tuesday.';)
Please take this with a bit of levity, as it was intended.
*Please use the most generic definition possible for 'penalty', i.e.- a bad thing