Google + AOL = Evil ?
I just posted the points below note to the excellent Matt Cutts at his blog. Citing the official Google blog, even Matt is characterizing the fact that Google won't change the algo for AOL as an indication they have not jumped the shark or done anything odd.
1) With all due respect to Marissa and Google officialdom, one of the reasons we read you, Zawodny, and Scoble is to get the "real story" rather than the one the PR mavens and corporate legal department have edited. I think I'm still with Battelle on this which means "concerned".
2) The problem points were not clarified by Marissa. If AOL content has ranking problems and is reviewed by insiders it confers an incredible advantage to AOL content. Why? Because the algo has imperfections. If the insider review simply determines that "AOL's dogfood section has 302 redirection problems" Google's given AOL a LOT more than one gets by simply memorizing the guidelines and your posts. I understand this type of help has been given to large advertisers for some time but that is no consolation to the rest of us.
3) I hope Google takes Danny's (SES) advice and initiates a paid review system for all sites. Charge the big ones more to help subsidize the mom and pop reviews. At the point where special treatment was given to the big guys Google slipped. Paid review is a way to regain that trust.