Whitey - 11:51 am on Jun 12, 2013 (gmt 0)
'big' and 'popular'
... hmmm , I suspect there is a manual organisation component. If they don't know what's authority, and they definitely don't because they say that, how can they let the algorithm completely loose.
They must have asked their regional editors in the key markets Matt is referring to, against an editorial template to nominate the top "x" sites in key verticals and then weight those domains. It also makes sense strategically, while Google "organises" the transition of smaller sites through this transition [ if they haven't gone bust already].
Look, of course I don't know, but now Google is on record as saying "they are figuring it out". That's a pretty open admission.