econman - 7:32 pm on Feb 17, 2011 (gmt 0)
Seems like there are two basic ways to avoid being slapped:
1. Don't get caught. Ideally, the paid links would need to be on relevant pages/sites, and look just like ordinary links in the same context, so that they would pass human inspection. If so, the odds are good the Googllrithms won't detect them either. In most cases this would be so costly, people won't go this route.
2. Have such a strong site that Google won't wonder how you got there if you move high in the SERPs, and will be reluctant to slap you even if the suspect/know you are doing something they don't approve of. Thus, your odds of being slapped go way down (but, of course this only works if you aren't "outed" in the NY Times).