Nah, I'm not that stupid. Zeus doesn't get involved in stuff like that. I'm pretty sure those decisions are made by some sort of engineer ... or maybe a couple of 'em? Or ... ummm ... maybe some Web researcher? College students getting paid to surf the Web? Is that wrong? ;-)
Well daaaaah, of course it's all man made in the end, but the algos need to be able to function scalably. Right now, things are too much left to someone's (or some group's?) indecipherable whim to determine which categories, and then which sites, get hand coded ... and why ... and in what order. Based on ... money? ... inability to control spam? ... other? Puhlease.
I can tell you, though I'm sure I don't have to, that there are a LOT of categories in Yahoo where the SERP's could probably be improved by hand coding. So what? It's a strawman argument, usually (though not always) employed by people who are currently hand coded into some hot SERP's.
This ain't no directory, this ain't no foolin' around. Hand coded SERP's are part directory. We've got directories already. Y especially. Anyone who wants to use Y's directory, or G's, or any other one, can do that.
The challenge here is to get the algo's right, not to shove a handful of directory listings at the top of some SERP's but not others, in an effort to fool some surfers into believing that the search engine is doing what it's supposed to be doing: Showing us at any given point in time, on an evolving Web, what the most relevant possibilities are for the queries we're entering.
Even I know that.
Geez, I thought everyone knew that. :p