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[edited by: tedster at 12:31 am (utc) on Jan 2, 2012]
What is shocking is that I did NOT make any changes at all because I never thought that there was anything wrong with my website in the first place.
There were no new signals added to the Panda algo, but just a data refresh.
had their plans disrupted with the absence of a December iteration in the machine learning cycle
It seems to me that the machine learning part of Panda is used to establish what factors are used in the algorithm. If those factors change (or possibly even change their relative weight) that would be an UPDATE. But in this case, the actual factors didn't change - just the data about websites that is being measured, as rustybrick explained.