brinked - 4:19 am on Dec 22, 2011 (gmt 0)
I understand your frustration. I am american but a lot of people who come to me are from the UK asking for advice.
Sometimes I look at their site and see total crap and I pretty much tell them why their site was probably effected.
There are others who are deeply depressed and have a genuinely quality site. They may have some questionable seo tactics but they are not supposed to be SEO masters. They are supposed to be webmasters producing content for their visitors. I see great content that must have taken a lot of time to put together. It saddens me that some sites were effected when they clearly present great, valuable content to their consumers.
Google is a bot, there is no way it can definitely say a site is quality or not. They can look for common factors and build an algorithm that can try to identify a useless website but it can never be 100% accurate.
A webmaster just recently contacted me about his site that was effected. It was a high quality unique content site. It would be a very valuable resource to people who were searching for this topic. However, every article on his site had the same 2 word phrase because that is exactly what his site was about. Google saw this as redundant, but his site just had many different articles associated with that one topic because that is all his site is about. Lets say his site is about free widgets. His articles were along the lines of how to obtain free widgets, what to do with free widgets, why you should have free widgets, why your moms free widgets are better than your free widgets, why you should ask your father about his free widgets. This is repetitive but useful. He has a specialty site that deals only with free widgets, I guess it is harder these days to have a specialty site.