I'm posting this to let others know something that I was naive about regarding the July 2012 big WMT unnatural links warning and whether manual action was taken.
On July 23rd 2012 I received two messages in WMT saying in part:
"However, we do realize that some links are outside of your control. As a result, for this specific incident we are taking very targeted action on the unnatural links instead of your site as a whole."
I recall a lot of discussion at the time that these particular warnings were simply that... warnings, and that just like the message stated, no manual action was being taken. Therefore, while I worked to clean up my link profile over the next 10 months, I didn't file a reconsideration request because google had told me in this message that I didn't have a manual penalty against my site.
Finally about a month ago, I decided to send in a reconsideration request as a last resort, figuring that I would get the canned message back saying I didn't have a manual penalty. Instead I got this one:
"We've reviewed your site and we still see links to your site that violate our quality guidelines. "
The messages on July 23rd are the only messages I ever received. They lulled me into not believing I had a manual link penalty, which I ended up finding out was incorrect.
I guess it's my fault for not assuming that I had a manual penalty. Now I know more of what I need to fix. But it sure would have been nice if the messaging was consistent from the start 11 months ago.