Half-time is time for another point.
It's been mentioned here that there is a difference between SEO and web site optimization (WSO). I'm now fully behind this second term because it much more accurately describes 1. what search engines want webmasters to do, and 2. incorporates best practices for web page development and good editorial methodology to boot. If we start thinking of SEO on these terms, it may not prevent junk content from getting listed ahead of us in the SERPS (at least not in the short term) but I think in the end, the rewards are coming. Call me a dreamer and an idealist but I think those that cheat in Vegas are always gonna be one step from an arrest record and those that build empires on gaming the SERPS will always be one step away from having that empire vanish into the dust from whence it arose. I'm all for perpetuating the process of removing the sand from the gearbox and would happily side with anyone who believes that quality still matters. In short, I believe the rewards of gaming the system are on the decline and the long-term benefits of acting responsibly toward the health of the Internet are on the rise. We'll see. One solar flare and it's back to smoke signals for the lot of us.