Search Engine Watch put up a post about Google saying No to Reciprocal Linking. In this post, Chris Boggs does a good review of the statement by Google in their Webmaster blog, and discusses the nature of the ambiguity in Google’s policy, and suggests that Google clarify their stance.
My bet is that there is no clarification coming. The inherent problem in providing too much detail in what Google does, is that it makes the job of spammers easier. By making it more difficult to determine what Google’s algorithms are, Google is effectively making the spammers job harder. It also helps them sustain competitive differentiation.
However, I personally don’t think the situation is that confusing. Our policy is that we only trade links with sites if we would be willing to give a link to that site, even if they did not link back to us. And, we never publish links pages. Out bound links always show up on topically relevant pages that are part of the core content of the site.