Shepherd - 10:00 am on Jul 24, 2013 (gmt 0)
I agree with you JS, we're going to try and un-muddy it by fluctuating our user metric stats and watching the rankings.
That patent you mention, if I remember correctly, was an attempt to keep webmasters from gleaning any real ranking information from changes they made to a website. We are not making changes to the website, we are changing the signals (user metrics) that google would be measuring (if they are) to determine ranking.
We're in kind of a unique position to be able to change the metrics pretty much whenever we want without making any real changes to the content or structure of the site. If google is using user metrics to determine ranking we will be able to see it.