[I could not resist a chance to use that title]
I spent some time trying to figure out what caused the recent sexblog kerfuffle. I noticed affected sites all seemed to link to commercial erotic sites (for example Comstock Films?).
My speculation as to what happened, is that Google's anti-spam algorithm got set a little too aggressively in terms of what sites are considered porn-spam. The twist comes that this didn't hit the affected sexbloggers directly, but indirectly, as they then got hit by a linking-to-spam penalty. That is, it's not that they were marked as spam themselves, but rather that they were suddenly seen as closely associated with porn spam.
Such an indirect change wouldn't necessarily affect all blogs which link to the spam-false-positive commercial erotic sites. It's just one factor, and other factors could override any penalty. The actual calculation involved could be very complex. No way to prove this, just a theory.
It's an amusing thought that somewhere deep in the innards of Google's anti-spam algorithm, there might be an honest-to-Potter-Stewart (I-know-it-when-I-see-it) line between "pornography" and "erotica".
Regarding Valleywag.com's original article, which seems to have done a certain amount of poisoning the well:
Some word Violet [Blue] wrote probably triggered a Google ban, inadvertently, but the search engine's rules are opaque, as is the procedure for an appeal against deletion.
Never eat at a place called "Mom's", never play cards with a man named "Doc", and don't take search engine analysis from a site called "Valleywag". There's far more to Google's criteria than simple word counting.By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on December 28, 2006 11:51 PM (Infothought permalink)