The Google blog has a new post on: Googlebombing 'failure'
Basically they explain that Google is not making a judgment that the result top results for "failure" represent Google's opinion of who is a failure. The top result is the Biography of President George W. Bush on the whitehouse.gov web site, and the second result is Michael Moore's home page.
As Google explains:
That explanation makes sense.
I think here their post gets a bit tricky. I think it makes sense that they say they don't condone "the practice of googlebombing" but exactly what the difference between that and the "collective wisdom" of the web that they tap to determine what words people use to link to a web page is tough to say. If a bunch of web authors think the photos of Olympic National Park on our web site are worthy of linking to that is exactly the type of information Google takes advantage of to provide relevant search results.
Many web authors do provide links because they believe the site they link to is of value and hope others go to that site. For example, Trickle Up is a great charity for providing opportunity to those with limited resources. Google wants to take advantage of that link as one very small factor in providing search results.
How you decide when the words an author uses to link to a page are worthy of consideration by Google's algorithms and when the words are pranks would be a difficult task. Google does have to take into account that this type of effort (targeted text in links to a page) is exactly what SEO efforts focus on, and I am sure Google takes steps to limit the bad effects (on search results) that those efforts can have. These "failure" examples are just temporary cases that will fade over time (I believe). Probably due to the wide spread viral like nature of the links, they are not as easy to identify and block with algorithm tuning.
So I think they are right when they conclude with the less than definitive:
At what point opinions of web authors become a prank, is difficult to judge, in my opinion.