It's a report in the New York Times about a research report out of MSN, on systematic publishing of junk pages designed to only show ads, by a few organized efforts suported by Google (blogspot and adsense) and more. The article goes 5 paragraphs in without mentioning SEO, describing the perpetrators as "rogue actors", "shadowy operators", and "rogue actors". The article properly reports on the identification of two ISPs/hosts seemingly involved, and repeatedly highlights how it is a defined activity of a small group with purposeful intent. When SEO is mentioned (paragraph 6), it is mentioned respectfully, properly, and positively:
Using questionable or illegal techniques to improve the ranking of a Web site in query results is known as search-engine spamming. The practice has proved to be a vexing problem for the major search companies, which struggle to prevent both spammers and companies specializing in improving legitimate clients’ Web traffic — a field known as search-engine optimization — from undermining their page-ranking systems.
Yet when I click through to read the original report out of Microsoft, it starts like this:
ABSTRACT: Spammers use questionable search engine optimization (SEO)techniques to promote their spam links into top search results.
It doesn't get any better, as throughout the paper Microsoft intermixes SEO and SPAM as if they don't know the difference:
SEO techniques span a wide spectrum. Since the precise boundary between legitimate SEO techniques and search spam is often subjective and fuzzy, we focus on one type of spam – redirection spam – which is widely used by large-scale spammers to associate many doorway pages with a single redirection domain.
There's plenty to comment in the paper, but right from the start it offended me (as an SEO) so that was the Microsoft Brand Experience for my post. Nice work New York Times, and Microsoft you still don't get it.