There has always been a lot of confusion amongst none experienced SEOs about the difference between a manual and algorithmic action by Google. And Google is aware of that and promises to make changes to help clarify the difference between the two.
John Mueller, Google's Webmaster Trends Analyst, said in multiple Google Webmaster Help threads in the past twenty-four hours that they are aware and working to make it easier.
John Mueller said:
When a site is algorithmically found to have been compromised, a reconsideration request is unnecessary -- it'll be updated automatically as we recrawl & reindex the content from there, and see that it's no longer compromised. The normal crawling & indexing can take a bit of time, so unfortunately you'll need to be a bit patient. In cases where the site was manually found to be compromised, you can still submit a reconsideration request to have it reviewed. You'll see the difference by checking the manual action feature in Webmaster Tools. We're looking into ways to make this process a bit clearer, more straightforward & consistent, I realize it's a bit confusing at the moment..
Specifically, John said, "We're looking into ways to make this process a bit clearer, more straightforward & consistent, I realize it's a bit confusing at the moment..."
I am not sure what their plans are exactly but it would be so sweet to have not just "manual actions" but "algorithmic actions" section in Google Webmaster Tools.
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.
Update: Or maybe not, John clarified on Google+:
I think you're mixing something up there -- this was specifically about hacked / compromised sites.
Image credit to BigStockPhoto for confused man