I think g1smd makes a good point, content can move about with pagination. Also content can reduce so where there was once 33 items there is now say only 25. If it were a static site you would be left with page 3 of a category with no content and on many dynamic sites you could end up with a orphaned page 3 that still is served but has no content but because was previously spidered keeps getting indexed. So try and solve I serve 404's in this circumstance and end up with a supplemental result.AHHHH! Pagination is hard
Alternatively, serve a version of your site to googlebot which has no pagination - just one long page with all the items. This is OK if you have less than, say, 10 pages of 10 items each. Then, no pagination issues, no dupe content issues, and no worries about adding or deleting to the list.
You have to paginate, no way. Solve the duplicate titles issue and find a place to place the "most important articles" on your side bar, at least for the 1st of the paginated pages, so these do not get lost.
Also, deeplink from article to another, and remember the old ones. That way you're -almost- done.
Cloaking is serving different information to the real world than to a bot, typically in an attemp to deceive the bot. I don't consider it cloaking if you serve the same info from 3 pages on just one page for a bot instead of spread out over 3 pages. The bot sometimes treats page 1 as the most important anyway, and sometimes ignores pages as you go down the row - by page 10, the bot usually walks away anyway. We rarely got a paginated page below page #20 indexed anyway. Might as well make it's job easier and just give it everything (or up to 100 results or so) on page 1, and nofollow/noindex the rest of the pages.
Anyway, this has worked fine for us. Better, in fact. But, -shrugging-... each to his/her own! ; )
If we're talking about paginating items in a list (i.e. articles, widgets, whatever) then I find that just inserting 'Page 1' 'Page 2' etc at the end of the title tag will make it sufficiently unique. I'd not have a description tag for these pages though.
I use dynamic description tags and page numbers in the title which google seems to understand pretty well because it often indents multiple pages from a thread when there are no others on that topic...
Has anyone with a very large category of page after page of the same TYPE of articles/items/whatever tried to use the canonical tag to point all pages to page 1? All of the actual articles being linked to from pages past page 1 could be linked to via other relevant articles to avoid them being lost.
~ This wouldn't cut off any articles but would make for an interesting internal link structure.