marcusmiller: Great points and I am inspired by your enthusiasm. My "day job" is for a 35-year-old company that isn't going anywhere any time soon. We already do most of what you suggest, though we've become a bit lax about seeking out other like communities in which to participate.
I agree with you, to a point, that white hat can compete against gray and black hat, and usually in a way that's much more solid and lasting. However, in my opinion, to ignore the fact that Google rewards gray and black hat is very bad business. In fact, I would say that knowing that they do, and that, even though it's unfair, there's nothing you can do to make it fair, is vital. In my case, I wasted _way_ too much time and effort trying to understand how in the world Google could preach white hat to me, yet ignore and _reward_ my competitors' black hat techniques.
I would never risk employing black hat techniques for traffic that could be _directly_ related to our main company. However, as I said, I'm not going to do it the way Google wants me to just because they said so.
Furthermore, I've found that understanding gray and black hat techniques, regardless whether I use them or not, has made me a much more well-rounded Internet marketer.
Indulge me one quick story. When I was just getting into the workforce, I started programming for a national vocal contest my dad was running, Mr. and Mrs. Country Music America (circa 1986). My dad had some notoriety (and infamy) for managing George Jones in the late 70's early 80's. Anyway, the vocal contest was sponsored by and held in cooperation with Holiday Inns of America. Local contests were held at the local lounge of about 200 Holiday Inns nationally. It was, in the words of Holiday Inns, the most successful promotional campaign in which they had been involved in recent history. Our local TV news picked up the story prior to our final event and came out to interview us. During the interview they were very nice and I answered all their questions. They got a shot of our green-bar print out (remember dot matrix) of our huge contestant list. I was pumped about the great publicity we were about to get. Later that week they aired the "expose" story about my father being involved in the contest. "This is the same (blank) that (blank) when he was manager of George Jones" (basically drudged up every bad thing my father ever did - which admittedly there was too much of back then). Then they said, "and there's been many reports to the BBB about this company" and showed a shot of me fanning out our huge contestant list! We had 4 BBB reports, 1 the BBB said was unwarranted and the other 3 were handled to the BBB satisfaction. We told the news people this.
I was devastated. I thought the news people reported the news! It was a real wake up call to me. The news anchors ended the story by saying, "there is supposed to be a final event hosted by Tammy Wynette at the Grand Ole Opry" and the other anchor replied, "we'll see" with a sarcastic tone. When we did hold the final event (with Tammy and Tom Snider as hosts), we tried everything to get them out there to report it but they never showed up.
I don't have to mention the morale to the story (and sorry for it not really being short) but the point that I took home from all that was, not to expect anyone else to help your business but you. And though I forgot that important point when I came here and posted, "Google's not being fair" (paraphrased), it certainly applies to Google and all the search engines.
Wow, I originally intended to just say, "good points marcusmiller"...