Andy_Langton - 3:51 pm on Apr 4, 2012 (gmt 0)
How would you know "IF" you got a manual one or an automatic one?
Google will reply to re-inclusion requests with a "no manual action" email if a site has algorithmic problems. It's up to you if you believe that settles that particular question ;)
Regardless, there are two separate issues here:
1. Is the OP a victim of competitor link sabotage?
Seemingly not, although it's impossible to determine such things in a forum like this one. This is also the least interesting question. The thread title is "The return of competitors hurting your backlink profile?". So:
2. Is it possible for competitors to hurt you site via links?
This is the interesting question, and one that affects all website owners. It strikes me that this should be the main discussion here.
It makes no sense to discount #2 by using the specifics of #1 - we don't know the specifics of #1. It's also a very narrow discussion that only really affects one website - even if it may serve as one example.
Perhaps if we were to leave the specifics of the OP's situation, there could be a more fruitful discussion about whether hurting a competitor is a real possibility, and how concerned site owners should be (or not be) about this.