Danny Sullivan spoke with Google's Matt Cutts and Bing's Duane Forrester on a panel today at SXSW Intertactive. Google and Bing sharing a stage usually makes for some search engine-related entertainment. You might recall Cutts and Bing's Harry Shum bickering about the whole "Bing stealing Google results" ordeal a while back. Today's discussion was a great deal more tame. In fact, there was no bickering at all, despite a brief joke about the Google/Bing debate by Sullivan.
The session basically consisted of a small(ish) overcrowded meeting room at the Hilton where the seats quickly filled up, leaving probably a third of the crowd sitting on the floor, which made for some difficult maneuvering for those trying to work their way up to a microphone to ask questions.
When asked about the JC Penney situation, Cutts said, "We're still taking action." On black hat tactics, he said that Google's response (penalties) tend to be "roughly proportional" to how serious the offense is. You might be penalized for 30 days, but if the offense is something that is more obviously deliberate, Google's response is "going to be stronger."
To those affected by such a penalty, he recommends the old reconsideration request (found at google.com/webmasters). He says he does pay attention to people who tweet him, but he wouldn't recommend that as the primary way to go about things. Forrester's response was along the same lines - you can tweet him, but it will probably get lost in his timeline.
There wasn't a lot of new information given in the session, although where Google has its classic "over 200 signals" for ranking, Forrester said Bing has like a thousand. Not sure if that was a big exaggeration or not. He didn't present it that way. It is interesting that there could be a difference of nearly 800 signals that the two search engines use.