1script - 11:02 pm on Apr 28, 2013 (gmt 0)
@jimbeetle: regarding the automatic penalties, calling them "algorithmic changes" only because they don't require human interaction would be a misnomer. I think we can make an assumption that Google runs their business as a stable system ("stable" in the sense of the control theory applied to a large system i.e. one that does not oscillate out of control). If so, having a site drop from 10,000UV/day to 100 UV/day overnight sounds like a feedback mechanism (since it's a computer system, we'll call it an algorithm) running amok. You would not design your feedback algorithm to make such drastic changes - you will never balance the system like that. It has all the hallmarks of manual input overriding the feedback. MC and his team cannot look at anything other than the most egregious or the most prominent cases. Since we know that Google is really skimpy on actual "real" human labor, the only other thing that can cause this kind of a drastic change would be the site tripping some kind of a per-set (manually!) tripwire. In other words, it kicks in without human interaction but has nothing to do with ranking algorithm.
I don't know, perhaps it's splitting hairs with terminology, but in my mind the "algo" is the set of software that is responsible for natural ranking of sites (i.e. positioning in SERPs relative to each other) and everything else would be either a promotion or a penalty. I never heard of Google nepotism (though it's not impossible) and so that leaves up with penalties. Manual would be something that came as a result of MC team member action (and that's what they are referring to in "manual action revoked") and for the rest I cannot think of another term but "automatic penalty".
It still feels like, works like and has consequences of the "manual action" but unlike the actual "manual action" has no actual recourse.