Robert_Charlton - 11:10 pm on Jun 30, 2013 (gmt 0)
You say "when you remove links that have been discounted, you may not have enough remaining links to bring up your rankings to where they once were".
But this is only true when discounted links still have any value, right? You are talking from links being discounted but still have a little bit of value and therefore a great number of them help ranking.
deeper - If I understand you correctly, I think we're talking about different points of reference. When I said, "where they once were", I wasn't talking about before disavow... I was talking about where you were before a manual or algorithmic action. I'm also thinking that, at least in the manual action, there's probably a punitive component, as well as simply the withdrawal of link juice.
Your comment applies, I think, in decisions you'd need to make when deciding, eg, whether you should disavow a blog roll link (where there is a question of whether it will seen as spam or not). I think in such a situation you need to look carefully at the history of the link... whether, eg, you placed it as part of a campaign. How many other blog roll links do you have? And you also need to look at the quality of the linking site, and how likely it is that a competitor might have placed the link rather than that the site owner liked your site.
Your comment seems also to apply to situations where one might use the disavow tool to do "link pruning"... ongoing maintenance to remove links that might might ultimately shift your link profile into flag-raising territory. Again, something like a blog roll link is a good example. I think that non-blog sitewides are even more likely to raise a flag. In all situations, Google prefers removal to disavow.
seoskunk's list is a good place to start....
1. Sitewide Links
2. Directory Links
3. Signature and Profile Links
4. Comment Links
5. Link Exchange
Again, though, the quality of the links matters. If you have some profile links from some high quality forums in which you've been active, there's no reason to delete them. If you've posted a lot of fluff in many forums, Google probably views those profile links differently.