Regardless of what I do, Google will not stop visiting removed pages, despite a 410 response code.
This floods my GWT with basically crap, making it impossible for me to find legitimate problems.
I was considering removing the response code. Leaving the content in place and having a user friendly message, informing them that the content has been removed and instead offer highly relevant alternatives.
Is there a downside to doing this, that I've not thought of?