On Dec 9, 2013 Matt Cutts appeared in a video for Google Webmaster Tools suggesting how a website might be able to reverse a spam backlink penalty quickly.
He indicates that disavowing a large number of links would show Google that the penalized company is taking things seriously.
Matt goes on to say that including a large amount of domain-wide disavows (such as using: domain:www.example.com via the disavow text file upload) can be considered part of a ‘good’ reconsideration request.
Here is my video summary:
“If a company were to go back and disavow every single link that they had gotten in 2012 that’s a pretty monumentally epic large action.”
Disavowing everything within a certain time-frame (of known spamming) is “a pretty radical action”
“…if we (Google) heard back in a reconsideration request that someone had taken that kind of a strong action then we could look and say OK this is something that people are taking seriously.”
“A good reconsideration request is often using the domain: query and taking out large amounts of domains which have bad links” (versus only pruning a few bad links)
“…that sort of large scale action, if taken, can have an impact whenever we’re assessing a domain within a reconsideration request”