Not to get philosophical on y'all, but our perception of "black hat" and "white hat" all depends on who we allow to define those terms. . I'm not giving license in this post to those whom I consider take part in real unethical techniques online....cloaking, hijacking clicks, links or browsers, etc... but to cause us to think about who is defining these two specific words we use in SERP. In SEO, who defines the true meaning of "black hat" or "white hat"? Google? Yahoo? Matt Cutts? The difference between unethical practices in actuality and perceived unethical behavior are not necessarily one and the same....unless your a search engine. According to the dictionary; 1. Unethical: not conforming to approved standards of social or professional behavior Black Hat: 1. black hat - A malicious hacker who commits illegal acts 2. black hat - "Black hat" and "white hate" are fairly ambiguous terms used to delineate those who stay within the search engines' (particularly Google's) guidelines and those who don't 3. - Black hat is used to describe a hacker (or cracker) who breaks into a computer system or network with malicious intent. Unlike a white hat hacker, the black hat hacker takes advantage of the break-in, perhaps destroying files or stealing data for some purpose 4. black hat - An unethical method of SEO which break's search engine's Terms of Service. This method works short-term, but sites using black hat methods are permanently banned from search engines within a month or two after they get caught. 5. black hat - This is a term used to describe SEO tactics that are counter or opposed to best practices. The best practices are summarized in the Google Webmaster Guidelines. 6. black hat - this is the name given to people using incorrect techniques to artificially raise the rank of a website in search engines. All black hat techniques violate the regulations of search engines and, sooner or later, lead to banning the websites involved from search engine indexes. Whitehat: 1. Whitehat: It refers to ethical practices used for search engine optimization. 2. Whitehat: legitimate optimization techniques employed that are agreeable to search engine companies, such as the proper use of meta-tags, an adequate keyword saturation and spider friendly page design. 3. Whitehat: An ethical method of SEO that follows search engine's Terms of Service. 4. Whitehat: This is a term used to describe SEO techniques that conform t the best practice guidelines and do not try and purposefully manipulate SERPs 5. Whitehat: Search Engine Optimisation that follows the guidelines set out by search engines, which are in place to maintain the quality and relevance of the search results In using terms like "black hat" and "white hat" to categorize webmasters and SEO experts, IMHO reveals a real push by search engines to blur and change the meaning of "ethical business standards" to suit their own purposes. If fact many times the search engines seem to employ questionable tactics themselves. Such tactics have been questioned by many, but never answered properly, so according to their own definitions, they must also be considered "black hat". Online, the search engines believe they are the only ones who should control the Internet's information highway. They are the Gods to whom you, should you visit their world, must pay homage and offer up financial sacrifices to satisfy their wrath and invoke their ranking blessings. You don't deserve to know the internal workings of their world or how it operates. You're only there to serve them! You who travel their highways must pay the proper toll fee and you have NO right to question their methods or tactics. In fact, you are nothing but one of the mass of sheeple that are there to worship them and do their bidding. To keep you inline, they send our their spys - eh, I mean spiders on a regular basis to ensure you're following their "ethics" and rules. Should you be found in violation of any of their codes of conduct, you'll suffer greatly. In order to get back into their good graces you'll serve 3-18 months in their prison sandbox to ensure you learnt your lesson. Should you get out, you'll be watched very carefully for repeat violations. In order to assist you in your reintigration into your online world it will be suggested you repeatedly go through their TOS to ensure your compliance and behavior as viable and rehabilitated online drone! Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said: "Democracy is like two wolves and one lamb deciding on what their going to have for supper" Search Engine say it best by their actions when they say: "True SEO White hat techniques is like two search engines and one webmaster deciding on what is going to be proper online SEO practices" We are the online Gods...resistance is futile!