There could be ways of making it legal given that we're a non-profit with somewhat academic interests. (By "making" I mean actually changing the law or getting a No-Action Letter.) Most people who do gambling online do it for profit, which is where things get tricky.
I'm genuinely confused about the "pressing the button for entertainment value". The email contained sentences like:
Honoring Petrov Day: I am trusting you with the launch codes. [...] On Petrov Day, we celebrate and practice not destroying the world. [...] You've been given the opportunity to not destroy LessWrong. [...] if you enter the launch codes below on LessWrong, [you will remove] a resource thousands of people view every day.
And no sentences playfully inviting button-pressing.
Maybe I can't unsee the cultural context I already had. But I still imagine that after receiving that email, I'd feel pretty bad/worried about pressing.
Is there anyone that would have pressed the button if there was guaranteed anonymity, and thus no personal cost? If so, make a second account
If I understand you correctly, that won't work. The identity of the button-presser is not determined by which account pressed the button. It's determined by the launch code string itself -- everyone got a personalised launch code. (Which means that if someone stole and used your personalised code, you'd also get blamed -- but that seems fair.)
Let's give Habryka a little more respect, eh?
I feel confused about how you interpreted my comment, and edited it lightly. For the record, Habryka's comment seems basically right to me; just wanted to add some nuance.
What exactly do you think "the lesson we need to take away from this" is?
(Feel free to just link if you wrote that elsewhere in this comment section)
So, I think it's important that LessWrong admins do not get to unilaterally decide that You Are Now Playing a Game With Your Reputation.
However, if Chris doesn't want to play, the action available to him is simply to not engage. I don't think he gets to both press the button and change the rules to decide what a button press means to other players.
Well, they did succeed, so for that they get points, but I think it was more due to a very weak defense on behalf of the victim rather than a very strong effort by petrov_day_admin_account. Like, the victim could have noticed things like: * The original instructions were sent over email + LessWrong message, but the phishing attempt was just LessWrong* The original message was sent by Ben Pace, the latter by petrov_day_admin_account* They were sent at different points in time, the latter of which was more correlated by the FB post that caused the phishing attemptMoreover, the attacker even sent messages to two real LessWrong team members, which would have completely revealed the attempt had those admins not been asleep in a different time zone.
EDIT: I now believe the below contains substantial errors, after reading this message from the attacker. Maybe you want to do sleuthing on your own, if so don't read below. (It uses LessWrong's spoiler feature.)
I believe the adversary was a person outside of the EA and rationality communities. They had not planned this, and they did not think very hard about who they sent the messages to (and didn't realise Habryka and Raemon were admins). Rather, they saw a spur-of-the-moment opportunity to attack this system after seeing a Facebook post by Chris Leong (which solicited reasons for and against pressing the button). I believe this because they commented on that Chris Leong posted and say they sent the message.
Here are some other considerations. They sort of overlap yours; but some people might find these frames carve things at a more helpful level of abstraction.
Groundedness: Some people encounter rationality ideas and either go crazy, or do lots of harm to themselves (for example, by working themselves into burnout or depression from a sense of moral guilt). Living locations can be more or less conducive to this. Berkeley seems particularly bad -- it's filled with a pretty trippy aesthetic. It feel unsafe/unwholesome in terms of various problems with homelessness, crime, etc. Oxford is a lot better. It's small, calm, beautiful, safe and with a very stable and historic culture. Though it's still not on the Pareto frontier of groundedness.
Proximity to power (or greatness on some other dimension): Hubs are real. People go to San Francisco to start startups, LA to become actors, London to work in finance, DC to work in think tanks... and so forth. For me this was an almost overwhelming consideration in wanting to live near San Francisco. Nowhere else has such a remarkable diversity of ambitious intellectuals; people like Jonathan Blow, Bret Victor, Peter Thiel (yes, I know he left eventually), Elon Musk, Michael Nielsen, the YC crowd, random people like the guy who wrote Thinking Physics and many many others... Whenever I did not live here, I'd pay a lot of attention to where interesting people and projects where located. And a ridiculously high number of roads would lead back to SF.