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I started my directory with an off-the-shelf script. I seeded it myself from day one with original useful descriptions and reviews. In 4 months the site has made profit everyday. As a result of the most recent updates the site has completely bombed in the SE's. However, in that time I have collected a number of regular registered users that continue to increase my monthly profits. It is not an amazing result but I think it is succesful in its own right especially considering how the majority of new directories do absolutely nothing, ever.
I wonder if the clobbered ones all ran AdSense?
My directory has adsense on it from day 1. It has not been clobbered in the slightest, although it did get a bit of a beating over the past couple of updates. It has since recovered and is pulling a little more traffic than it was before. I don't think running contextual ads on any sort of site should would be the cause of any sort of penalty.