Planet13 - 3:29 am on Apr 14, 2011 (gmt 0)
Yes, if it can hurt a site, then why not put a ton of junk articles up pointing to your competitor. :)
I'm only watching a couple of very narrowly focused verticals, but I can tell you from what I have observed since panda is that the top sites have NOT been hurt by having bunches of article directories / paid directory / reciprocal links pointing to them.
The top site for one somewhat competitive keyword phrase has, as far as I can tell, a total of 2 "natural" links. Yes, just 2.
Their content is decent - not bad, just not great. But it is somehwat duplicated on their other sites.