DreamHost staff do visit sometimes, but its not guaranteed they will help you through the forum. Especially if you don't post your domain or something else they can identify you by.
Scraping can be confused with including RSS feeds. Feed providers may not allow you to embed feeds into your own web site, or if one visits their site, and then visits yours, they may think you illicitly copied content from provider. So if you did use feeds, you want to point out that the provider gives permission to include the content, like in a Terms of Service page, and/or credit the provider on your pages too.
As for black hat seo, it is defined as "spamdexing, attempt to redirect search results to particular target pages in a fashion that is against the search engines' terms of service" Now most of the time this applies to those web sites that include nothing but pages of links where the text is just keywords, but this can include other tactics, as well as someone exploiting a vulnerability with your web site and hiding these spam links in your pages. Also be weary of any plugins/applications that you use that perform "seo" or "search engine optimization".