The big dog debate on the sandbox is still going on. And this is probably the first time I have seen Danny Sullivan specifically come out and say he has seen the sandbox-like results first hand. I believe he always felt it was true, but I do not believe I have ever heard him say he saw it with his own eyes. That all changed recently with a post he made in that thread at 04:34 PM on 12/28/05;
As it happens, I was at a friend's house yesterday who has a completely new site, only a month and a half old. He was wondering why another site was outranking him. I'm probably going to go into detail about what I found, but fair to say, there was a sandbox effect for everything I could see. If ranked for some terms but wouldn't rank for other ones that it absolutely, positively should have -- given the other terms it was doing well for.
Guys, this is what the sandbox is all about. A new site not ranking for keyword phrases that are easy to rank for. Simple basic optimization techniques or clean cut usability techniques would have normally brought this site within the top 10. But the sandbox doesn't allow that.