@Whitey: ditto to that! I had a spreadsheet that I've collected all the info about the site contact, the way I got it (WHOIS, contact form, listed on site), the date contacted etc. I've inserted all that data into the disavow.txt as a comment above the domain. I've also added a comment in cases the domain has already expired, I still added it into the disavow.txt if WMT has still listed it at the time.
I have also included a PDF copy of that spreadsheet with my RR that followed 48 hours after the disavow.
So, yeah, I'd say if anyone cared to look, it would be apparent that I did my homework and put significant time and effort into it.
But regardless, I still take offense to the notion that Google should be doling out punishments as they [MC team, interns, reviewers - whatever] see fit. I want to know who concocted the very notion that getting out of the manual action should be "painful". Why? Do they not realize that the most prolific offenders are companies, not individuals, and they cannot "feel" anything? It is only painful to people that try to restore the standing of sites they've been working on for years. Spammers "rinse and repeat" - I thought everybody knew that. And, in any case, was it not enough to be the judge and the jury, they wanted to be the executioner, too?
Google may have been able to fool FTC and the Congress so far but they are in the very real sense holding the keys to Internet, at least in the niche I'm in. They certainly have the power to make or break online-based companies and they are affecting real offline lives of people. This is a huge responsibility, I don't see them acting as if they realize that.