fathom - 9:28 am on Apr 12, 2012 (gmt 0)
I am fascinated by Fathom's suggestion that a poorly executed link campaign can damage your own site, but not a competitors. If all is the same except the target site (or, in a different formulation, the person paying the bills), I cannot see how you can categorically say one will be penalised but not the other.
Conjecture doesn't mean it happens. Conjecture doesn't even mean it was ever attempted.
What skill-level would you need to do this?
Where do you find these people... clearly those that got the messages from Google would also need to be in top ranked positions as I can't fathom why a competitor would hire anyone to harm a poorly ranked domain which bags the question how they got ranked in the first place? Surely not because of spammy links but high quality editorial ones? Or paid ones?
Law of averages
How many times have you attempted to harm any website?
How many times have you paid someone to harm any website?
How many people do you know that have a chronological timeline for their attempts to harm any website?
Now compare that to how many times have you attempted to gain ranks or increase PageRank through links (paid or otherwise) yourself?
Based on the law of averages... this is a no brainer.
I'll concede it could happen if someone actually attempted it... I just find that 10s of thousand of people not attempting it ... means it never happened... which comes back to "you did it yourself".