tedster - 3:34 am on Apr 18, 2013 (gmt 0)
when Google tells me "No Manual Penalty" yet I'm penalized, that makes zero sense
I think Google has automated many demotions that we previously considered manual. So when they say "no manual penalty" the person who is examining your site's record has looked for a manual penalty flag and they don't see one.
As I understand it, the new message doesn't even use the word "penalty" but only says "no manual action". They are changing their language, much to our confusion.