Wilburforce - 11:58 am on Aug 5, 2013 (gmt 0)
if Google stands nothing to gain from ranking such pages, its usefulness will never be known by end users and there is no damage done to Google's public perception
Google has a great deal to gain by showing the most appropriate content for the end user. That is what earned them their current position, and public perception will be damaged if they continue to disappoint searchers (which, in my view, their current results must be doing).
Their reputation for returning good results is robust, and will withstand - is withstanding - lapses in performance, but it isn't indestructible.