Thanks Ted. Yes gang, I haven't had much time for hanging out here, but I do try to drop in once in a while. The WSJ approached me for context, the ranking losses had already occurred before I was involved.
I can't disclose some elements because it was given to me 'off the record' and I respect that. My contacts (and my reputation) are certainly more important than some story that will be old news in a week or two. I simply wanted to help folks figure out what exactly happened, thus I chimed in on this thread. I was also somewhat concerned that there was no apparent smoking gun.
As for the conspiracy theory stuff, I am also aware of details in the JCP and the OS cases and can say with some certainty, these were seperate instances and not started by the same individuals. It is NOT some grand plan of some SEO firm.
What is more important I think, is that people are using the mainstream media to do their bidding for them. I wrote a piece on Search Engine Journal today looking at the whole issue of outing/reporting competitors, (Ted can add the link if he wants, or we can start a thread on that topic). This seems to be the conversation to be had at this point.
Furthermore, if we consider the preceding hot news prior to this (content farms/ thin content) we can start to consider the root of much of this is actual search quality. It's not bloody easy running the world's foremost search engine and if they manage to improve search quality, none of this would be an issue. I doubt we'll ever see a perfect world though. It is what it is.