UK_Web_Guy - 8:35 am on Feb 24, 2012 (gmt 0)
wokka - i've seen this lots of times, I don't think it's Panda - it is a ranking demotion for certain keywords because you tipped the scale in terms of over optimised backlinks.
I'm with you that in some niches you have to buys links and others seem to get away with it.
At the end of the day it comes down to a bit of luck and not going overboard.
I speak from bitter sweet experience on this, is obviously only my opinion, but nobody will convince me it's any different.
As far as manual v's algorithmic goes - i think the algo will detect over optimisation and then flag it for manual review -
I've seen people get out of this - stick mail me if you want more info