I recently read a series of enraged posts on Google's anti-link-spam policy, which they now seem to be actively enforcing. The blogger in question seems to have a bit of a thing for one John Chow. John Chow appears to be one of these revolting make-money-fast-on-the-internet people, complete with bragging about his earnings, pictures of expensive cars and such, and the other paraphernalia of his ilk. Please note that his site may be a little malware-ish; in the past, for instance, he has recommended setting affiliate cookies on peoples' computers without their knowledge. This is definitely against Amazon's program policies, at least, and is extremely dishonest.
The post linked above is interesting, because it seems to assume that Google won't dare penalise all blogs which pay for or are paid for links and reviews. The rationale is that if they did this, Google would lose a lot of content.
Nice idea, but it breaks down a bit when you look at the sites themselves. First, PayPerPost and similar; these are services which pay you for (generally positive) reviews of content, products and services. Blogs using PayPerPost fall into two broad categories.
First, there are the small, generally not very good, personal blogs. PayPerPost likes to babble on about how they're helping 'blue collar bloggers' when they try to justify their paying-for-deception business model. Someone should launch a service to help 'blue collar newspaper reporters', and bribe them to write nice things about disreputable companies. That would be entirely acceptable, no? Now, while these blogs are rarely very good, it is likely that the people writing them don't realise quite how deceptive they are being; now that Google has brought it to their attention, the more conscientious ones will no doubt bin PayPerPost. I don't really have any desire to read blogs written by people who think that misleading people for money is acceptable, anyway.
The second category encompasses the dodgier variety of get-rich-quick blogger. Afore-mentioned John Chow person falls into this category, while the author of the original post linked to is a wannabe. I see no earthly reason why anyone except another get-rich-quick blogger would want to read their tripe; the whole thing is terribly incestuous. Google can drop them all, for all I care. They'd be improving their search results by doing so.
Link sale is a little more dubious. I suspect that a lot of link sellers didn't realise at the time that what they were doing was really harmful. I'd guess that Google will go pretty easy on those of them who don't re-offend, though I suspect that buyers of links will be hit hard; I'm sure most of them knew very well what they were doing.
All in all, I think that this is a positive occurrence, and I hope that Google will continue what they've started. It can only lead to better search results for actual Internet users.
(All links on this particular post are, of course, nofollowed for your protection.)