823 karmaJoined Dec 2016


Yeah, I think it’s probably fair to say that I worded that a bit too strongly. I do think she fits the reference class significantly less well than many of the other EAs who left (notably, she was only 23 at the time), but I should have been more precise.

I tried to address this argument with the point about every other long-time EA leaving Alameda for the same reasons. I’ve avoided naming those other EAs out of respect for their privacy, but they include multiple very core and well-respected EAs. The parallel you’re trying to draw here just really doesn’t hold up.

Yes, I disagree. My understanding of what happened at each of those four companies in the early days is qualitatively, categorically different from what happened at Alameda.

One important thing to note is that when we first warned everyone, he was not yet in the richest 100 people in the world. If they had taken our warnings seriously at the start, he may never have become that rich in the first place.

this was not above normal levels for the CEO of a rapidly growing business

It was, and we explicitly said that it was at the time. Many of those of us who left have a ton of experience in startups, and the persistent idea that this was a typical “founder squabble” is wrong, and to be honest, getting really tiresome to hear. This was not a normal startup, and these were not normal startup problems.

(Appreciate the words of support for my honesty, thank you!)

I should maybe have been clearer. When talking to a random journalist you don’t know, I think it’s pretty obvious that you should confirm whether you’re on the record or not. I was more trying to address the concern about whether things are newsworthy when talking to friends who also happen to be journalists. Journalists have beats, and most journalists are not currently working any stories for which comments from random EAs are newsworthy. A few journalists are! And if you happen to be talking to those ones, then, yeah, exercise more caution.

I dunno I think people are just really overestimating the likelihood of getting “caught on the record” as a random EA. It’s hard to explain precisely why, but, if any EA who is totally unconnected to current events ends up with their words being published against their expectations I will be very surprised. Happy to bet against it happening at 4:1 odds (for relatively small amounts as it’s a bit hard to make the criteria ungameable).

I think that's a pretty fair point but a bit overstated? I don't think arbitrary EAs have that much to worry about here, I think it's mainly just people with a more direct connection to the events. That's certainly not a small group, but I'm not sure it's a "large fraction of the people writing on this Forum" either. And again, I think we all generally know who we are and know that that implies we should be cautious when talking to journalists.

That said I certainly don't think it would hurt for everyone writing on this Forum to explicitly confirm that they're off the record when talking to any journalists for the next few weeks. I don't see doing so as very costly at all.

I don't know you personally so I can't say whether this applies to you specifically, but: the vast majority of people do not say newsworthy things to their friends basically ever. I really don't think it makes sense to feel anxious about this or change your behaviour based on a (former?) multi-billionaire's DMs getting published. Almost everyone who is in the reference class of "people who need to worry about this" is aware that they are in that reference class.

It takes about a minute of googling to find an article that reasonably accurately clarifies what is meant by "on the record", "background", and "off the record". The social rule is that when speaking to a journalist about anything remotely newsworthy (if unsure, assume it is), you're on the record unless you say you'd rather not be and the journalist explicitly agrees.

The rules aren't self-evident, they're just well-known among people who need to know them. People are acting like Sam should have known because he has been actively engaging with the press for years now, has consulted with PR professionals, etc. The idea that these rules have not been explained to him clearly and repeatedly is vanishingly unlikely to the point of being laughable.

There's no reason to be reluctant to talk to journalist friends about non-newsworthy stuff, and the vast majority of things normal people talk to their friends about are not newsworthy. If you want to talk to a journalist friend about something that might be newsworthy, it's as easy as just saying "off the record, yeah?" and them responding "yeah of course." Takes five seconds and is really not an issue.

That’s just not how it works, and everyone who interacts with journalists with any regularity at all (like Sam has for years) knows that that’s not how it works.

A lot of people in this thread don’t know those norms and seem to be trying to reason about them from first principles or something. This is not useful. The norms are what they are, have been well-established for decades, and are common knowledge among all relevant parties. Sam has certainly had them explained to him many, many times.

This is entirely on him.

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