Sebastian Johnsson, a self proclaimed grey/black hat wrote an incredibly interesting story on his blog on how he started getting into the black/gray hat world of SEO, made a ton of money doing so and then all of a sudden lost everything.
He gives an overview of what he did but more interestingly he describes how his competitor tracked all his efforts down and brought it to the attention of Google's Matt Cutts. Even more interesting is that the competitors, despite one wiping out the other's business, respect each other. And to take it even one more step, the one that lost his business, thanked Google's Matt Cutts for improving the search results.
I cannot sum up the whole story here, you should read it at his blog.
But let's just focus on the last part.
Matt Cutts of Google mentions he liked the blog post and how they deal with each other as competitors:
@SebastianJ just wanted to say this was an interesting post, especially where you and Simon both try to put aside any bad feelings.— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 1, 2014
Sebastian then says he appreciates the cleaner, less-spammy search results despite the fact that it was his spam and his earnings:
@mattcutts interesting that you found it :). I do appreciate your efforts of improving the SERP, even though I was the one getting penalized— Sebastian Johnsson (@SebastianJ) May 1, 2014
Then Matt Cutts pushes the agenda of encouraging people away from black hat and spam:
@SebastianJ lots of people send me interesting reads. If you do decide to leave affiliate behind to build something new, hope it goes well.— Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 2, 2014
The whole thing, to me, is very fascinating.
Forum discussion at Twitter.