I received an email from a UK directory (in which I have a couple of entries) asking me to verify certain details. At the bottom of the email I found something along the lines of this:
"Important: So that Google will not consider us a link farm we refuse link submissions that may be considered manipulative. All links therefore are posted as no-follow by default."
This seems fine, it's the way I run my own curated directories. But they went on to say something like the following:
"Some Partners were dissatisfied with no-follow links so we've made it possible for them to upgrade their link to do-follow for an admin fee of <price in GBP>. Our policy is to allow no more than 20 do-follow links on any category page. We do this to protect the Directory from Google penalties."
Is it really possible to use do-follow links as long as they are out-weighed by a preponderance of other no-follow links on the page?* If that's true it smells like paydirt for curated directory owners.
(*This question assumes the directory is also closely curated and tightly targeted to its subject AND geographic region, eg the UK.)