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My understanding is that these hat colour terms have migrated into SEO use from the computer hacking and security world where computer criminals were called “black hats” and computer security experts, “white hats”.

As usual with so much of the web, there are a 1,001 different definitions of terms like this and they keep changing.

“The rules” of SEO are written by each SE. Some of these “rules” are very clear (eg. don’t use text on a page that is the same colour as the page – hidden text) but many are vague and open to interpretation.

Even older than the term “SEO” and the SE brand, “Google” is “spamdexing”. Try this page for more info on what may be a better and certainly older term, “Spamdexing“.

Can I suggest that authorship markup is a minor issue in the SE scheme of things. I’m not saying that external links don’t matter. They just don’t usually matter much when people try to manipulate them. SEs are so far ahead of the SE linking suggestions made by so many people in Flying Solo, IMHO.