ergophobe - 12:41 am on Mar 6, 2011 (gmt 0)
So rather than a failure or a mere PR stunt
I don't think it was a *mere* PR stunt. I meant more that a bad solution was rushed to market to stifle the increasing clamor. So it was a PR stunt in the sense that it was meant to do something about the clamor and the mainstream press who don't seem to know how to follow this sort of thing accept it as "better" for now, even though it clearly needs a LOT of work.
In the meantime, though, they have raised expectations, the very thing Matt Cutts no doubt feared given his blog post about how the results are higher quality than ever, but the expectations are much much higher than ever before, with the result that people see the quality declining.
I have never used the spam tool to report someone who outranked me in the SERPs no matter what trashy spam they were putting out there. Not my job to do Google's research for them and if I started reporting everything that outranked my sorry ass sites, I'd be at it for months. But when I saw within 2 hours sites that were the very thing the new algo was supposed to stop outrank my page (a throwaway page on EZA), I reported them. Not because I wanted to stop the spammers, but because I wanted to throw Google's new algo back in their face and show them how far from working it is. I have no doubt the spammers who are outranking me can autopilot their way to top rankings on another domain with no trouble and bear them no personal animus.
Yep, it's coming. Google called it "a new layer"
Yes and no. The "new layer" is meant to respond to those who were killed in the rankings but did not deserve to get killed. It will not correct the fact that the new algo tune has done nothing, as far as I can see, to get the lowest quality spam out of the index. From that perspective, this is a total joke and the new layer won't do anything at all as I understand it.
What I see out of this is "phase 2", aimed at the big boy content farms, has knocked some really big players down a notch. But phase 1, which was occasioned by the complaints of the Stack Exchange guys about blatant scrapers outranking original content, has seen no improvement at all. It may be worse than that. By knocking out the content farms that have a certain minimum standard, low though it may be (EZA, Squidoo), they have just created more first-page spots for the true bottom-feeder spammers.