@coachm You are right. For a large number of sites google has given up ranking pages: good pages are buried on 'bad' sites and horrible pages rank very high on 'good' sites. This has happened Post-Panda 1, IIRC, and as far as I can tell that Google has not taken in account any content changes. Maybe they want to drive out of business 'bad' site owners as identified by panda 1? Google hates content farms but it is lumping everyone from online stores to blogs with content farms.
I have gotten steady feedback from people I've shown my site to that say they are scratching their heads as to why there have not been any traffic upticks. Things have just gotten worse. I also mind that scrapers continue to hang around and beat the original articles in the serps.
Not even Google engineers can tell for some sites. This is why I never understand why Google is making everyone suffer and wait. (I don't that our sites got much worse after cleaning up for Panda))