adder - 5:33 pm on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)
So, back to last July when thousands of webmasters received an unnatural links warning in their GWT. It created a widespread panic but then Google followed up with the so-called "Lenient" message.
It's pretty much an accepted fact that getting the dreaded Unnatural Links Warning message means a manual action has been taken against the site.
Many SEO blogs posted allegations that the "Lenient" message was not an indication of a penalty - simply an automated warning.
I was recently looking at a site that had been receiving treatment for both Panda and Penguin (because basically the owner had no idea as to what caused the drop in rankings). He had also received the message last July, followed up by the more lenient version.
Some of the links pointing to that site were truly atrocious so you can't really blame the owner for thinking this was to do with the "animal" updates (especially as the site traffic seemed to suffer every time a new Panda or Penguin update was rolled out).
Having tried to remove some of the worst links, the owner submitted a reconsideration request. Look, you don't submit a reconsideration request if your site is affected by an algo, do you?! You simply fix the problems hoping that the next update would sort it out.
I've seen plenty of Penguinised sites and they never receive any GWT messages.
What happened 2 weeks later was that he received the standard "We still see links that violate our guidelines etc..." response.
Now, this doesn't prove that the "Lenient" message automatically means a manual action, but it may suggest that it does.
I think there are 3 possibilities with this site: