Whitey - 1:26 am on Feb 28, 2010 (gmt 0)
Since Google already feels they identify paid links, they should just write the algorithm to ignore them for ranking purposes.
My instinct is that Google may still rely on a lot of editorial and reporting via WMT to catch out link buyers and sellers. I also have a sense that the algorithmn may not be strong enough to totally erradicate link buying - which is clear given the amount of activity out there.
On the flip side , my sense is that the reality for Google is that they require good content being linked to, and that they probably turn a blind eye to the rules surrounding link purchases that promote it when it's convenient for them to allow the web to function, whilst seeking to perfect their automated approaches.
At another level, does Google really care if the same widget is being promoted on a 1000 different website's using paid links. Are they trying to squeeze out commercial dominance by any one player. It's rare for me to find websites that dominate every category of their vertical these days and i think that " punishing " needs to be considered also in Google's commercial way.
btw - Tedster - i never witnessed any anger from you - Great to see you expressing your outer limits !