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ThomasSittler comments on Announcing the 2017 donor lottery - Effective Altruism Forum

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Comment author: [deleted] 16 December 2017 11:17:56AM 1 point [-]

This is really great, I like the idea of CEA building online infrastructure for the community. The explanation of the lottery is pretty good and you've clearly put a lot of effort into it. It is still not perfectly clear in parts.

The draw date is the time at which the lottery will be drawn. The UNIX timestamp of this date will be used to select the NIST beacon entry from which the winning lottery number is derived.

An explanation of NIST beacon entry would be nice here.

The block size is guaranteed by a benefactor who agrees to ‘backstop’ the pot up to this amount.

I'm assuming from context that this means Paul will pay the whole 100,000 even if less than 100,000 is donated by individual entrants in the lottery. More explanation would be nice. [OK, this becomes clearer later in the text, when you say "Unallocated number ranges will be assigned as a ‘ticket’ to the lottery guarantor". But the flow is not smooth]

It's also not entirely clear to me how block overflow is handled. Do you have a second guarantor waiting in the wings for the second block?

Comment author: Carl_Shulman 16 December 2017 05:40:38PM 3 points [-]

It's also not entirely clear to me how block overflow is handled. Do you have a second guarantor waiting in the wings for the second block?

If you have overflow, that means you have more than the amount of the first block coming in, so you only need the guarantor for the last block. E.g. if people enter with $150,000 collectively, then $100,000 of that goes to pay out for the first block (which will definitely pay out because all of its numbers are allocated). In the 50% chance that the second block is won, then the guarantor will add $50,000 to pay out the second block (and otherwise the guarantor will allocate the funds, basically the guarantor is just committing to take all the unclaimed tickets on the last block).