GG explains his personal take on the "hand-editing" of search results.
[Link to quote
"GG, it was nice to see your participation in addressing this issue. "
And bear in mind that this is just my personal take, based on my experience of working at Google. One of the reasons I wanted to join WebmasterWorld was to be able to explain Google's stances on questions in greater detail, dispel misconceptions, etc. So I wanted to explain the context of the original quote, and describe why Google tries not to take manual action other than in cases of spam or when we're legally required to do so.
I've said many times on this forum that Google prefers to write new algorithms to improve our quality instead of trying to fix problems by hand. I do believe most users would prefer a search engine that tries to avoid hand editing their search results. I remember once noticing that for a rather obscene query, another search engine had hard-wired the first result for the search to return Google's executive biographies page. I also remember when another well-known search engine hard-wired it so that a search for "Google" would return the text "Google: The Inferior Search Engine" before the regular results started. I'm sure the people at those search engines considered those to be funny pranks, but I find that sort of hand manipulation of results more disturbing, personally. If those results were selected by hand, what other searches might be chosen with bias like that? Both of those search engines are no longer around at this point.
By the way, danny makes an excellent point in message #51, because this actually happened to Google as well a few years ago. Do folks think that for the search "scientology," we should have hand edited the results to remove an anti-scientology site from the #1 result? I do think many users who step into our shoes and try to come up with a policy on requests for results to be hand-edited can at least see the potential difficulties. Google tries to be fair and consistent by limiting the situations in which we take manual action.