About a year ago, I covered a site clinic session where Google's Matt Cutts said that he'd prefer to start with a new domain than a domain that was penalized in the past. He used an analogy that new domains start at the ground level, penalized domains start below sea level.
The other day, I spotted a Google Webmaster Help thread where Googler, JohnMu may have implied otherwise. John said:
No, you don't have to start from scratch, those links will continue to be relevant to your content, so we'll certainly continue to count them appropriately.
Honestly, John might be referring here to a specific site that doesn't have a penalty and thus won't start from below sea level. But I always wondered if things, for the most part, got "reset" when you submit a reconsideration request to Google.
What do you think?
Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.