Steem UserAuthority is a new reputation measure or “reputation metric” according to @scipio. It was developed into reality by @scipio and @holger80 after almost an year. According to the initial @steem-ua post, this new way of measuring reputation is mainly based on who follows whom and who has unfollowed whom. It doesn't care how old, rich or sophisticated the account is. It is thought to give a better representation of an account’s reputation than how it’s currently done. It all starts from the trusted accounts for example witness accounts. Active, up to date and staked Witness accounts. From my understanding this is how I’d put it to the layman; the more trusted accounts you have following you, the more you’ll be trusted as well hence your reputation will shoot up. Following the chain, the accounts you follow will also now be trusted and gain reputation while the ones you unfollow will be less trusted and probably lose reputation.
The current system only focuses on how much you’ve gained in upvotes to award reputation. I think the current system is on one hand similar to the UA system since you can only gain much from upvotes if you have highly steempowered and reputable people upvoting you. The downside of the current reputation system is that the so called “steempowered and reputable people” upvoting your content might actually be just you. Powering up and upvoting yourself.
In summary, if we have many accounts following a specific account, the reputation of that account goes up. If we have many accounts unfollowing a given account, reputation will probably go down. Take a look at Twitter. Followers to following ratios are considered by some people as a measure of their reputation on Twitter. For example Kanye West has 28M followers, follows only 8 people and I don’t think he has a retweet button. A 3.5M followers/following ratio there which is huge. Eminem however has close to 22M followers and follows none. He also has no retweet button. That’s an infinity ratio.
Steemit is somewhat different from Twitter because on twitter you follow someone because you like what they have to offer i.e good tweets. Steemit is commercialized so people might follow you but not really view your content if they can’t gain from it. They’ll go looking for what they’re interested in through tags, the “Trending” and “Hot” tabs etc. Steem UA however could change that. No one would want to just be boosting an account with their follow yet they’re not interested in it. Only good/great content will be able to get you follows and consequently higher reputation. Those lacking in terms of publishing great original content will have to pull up their socks or fall out.
What we don’t know yet is if the UA reputation scoring will overtake the current scoring system. Will it fail? Will they run side by side? Or will they be combined into one hybrid thing?
Below are some links that might be of help you understand this better. Read on.