What are good validator onboarding criteria?

What are the most important criteria to consider when onboarding a new validator into the validator network?

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I have been recently digging into it and clarity would be really helpful

@Mateusz

A transparent and “clean” onboarding process should be defined. In my opinion the applicants should submit a form and the validators + foundation should select the new validators.

The form responses should be made public, and they should specify what they can bring to the table, and how they can/want help.

Most often big players don’t react fast… don’t care about governance/decentralization… you can see their involvement in terms of governance on all cosmos networks per example, and you see that they don’t even vote most of the time on governance proposals.

Smaller teams should be preferred instead of big “old” ones like Coinbase or Blockdeamon…although looks like Blockdeamon already know that they will have a slot.

The foundation has an obligation to defend the smaller Validators that belong to the current active set, the ones that are here from the beginning, the ones that are here when the chain breaks. We see foundation delegations with hundreds of millions of tokens to one Validator and for others 0, and this is not caring about decentralization. This is filling up his own pockets or their friends pockets.

In the last week foundation tokens have been unlocked… and what did we saw? all those “Anonymous” Validators getting tons of delegation, and the APY getting squeezed even more… The foundation and the foundation members should care about all the validators, and at least ensure that they don’t run under loss. I don’t believe that the validators ranked below 40th (In terms of voting power) have any kind of profit, but even so, they are still fighting, still helping and securing the network, and how did the foundation repays?

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Based on the discussion that took place over the most recent PIP, I thought of writing some thoughts down and hopefully start a discussion around what we should consider as good validator criteria, that is directly connected to what we consider a ‘good validator’.
In my opinion, there are two aspects we should take into consideration when defining the ‘good validator’. On the one hand, we have the community, which is the one that will delegate to the validator, and on the other, we have the responsibilities, or best practices, that a validator should follow.
When it comes to the community considerations, we should look into the following:

  • Self-staked tokens: The amount of Matic self-delegated to themselves signals to the community that the validator has skin in the game and will face equally (if not more than the delegators) the consequences of their actions.

  • Track record: Often validators are validating other chains, so in this case, it is useful to see someone’s past activities, governance participation, and general activities that can compose a track record and talk to the practices/ethos of the validator.

  • Community contributions: What the previous two bullet points talk to actually is reputation. So, validators that are active in communities, engage in discussions, create and distribute educational content and actively communicate with the community are also highly valued and can be praised/preferred by the community.

When it comes to the best practices a validator should follow we can consider:

  • Even though validators should not be necessarily doxed, they should have a website where they advertise their operations as they see fit as well as a communication channel. The communication won’t only serve as a point of contact with the community of delegators but more importantly as a way of guaranteeing the network’s health, meaning that there should be a way where critical updates and performance issues can be communicated.

  • Validators play a special role in the governance system. As pillars of the system, ‘good’ validators should vote on every proposal. It is especially important since delegators inherit the vote of their validator.

  • The amount of the self-stake is also of importance since it signals the commitment/ skin in the game that validators have. A validator with a higher amount of self-staked Matic has more skin in the game, making it more liable for its actions.

  • Track record: Delegators will likely look at the track record of the validators they plan to delegate to. This includes seniority, past votes on proposals, historical average uptime, and how often the node was compromised.

  • Additionally, validators should be expected to be active members of the community. They should always be up-to-date with the current state of the ecosystem so that they can easily adapt to any change.

  • Validators should be expected to provision one or more data center locations with redundant power, networking, firewalls, HSMs and servers.

So when it comes to the selection process of the validators all of the above criteria should be taken into consideration and be weighted in the decision-making process.
A well-communicated and documented process that takes into consideration criteria that are important for both the community and the validator side of things (such as security practices, stake, etc) should be put in place. Transparency is not only crucial for the community but also in regard to the health of the network.

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I agree with the most except with “self-stake”. Obviously, only big VC-backed companies will be able to provide a big self-stake. That doesn’t mean any skin in the game, it just means that they have access to big amounts of cash.

Skin in the game is commitment, resources that they will allocate or not to the network and what they can bring to the table.

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Agree with you, that self-stake it’s not a guarantee.
But in some cases, it could be a sign of faith, because if you have a lot of tokens and don’t sell them in a bear market, it means that you are a long-term believer in the project and you will do your maximum for success.
And of course, it says something in terms of slashing, because if you have the opportunity to make some bad actions and profit from these actions will be higher than your “self-stake”, for some network participants it could be acceptable, I saw this in other networks. In the case of “old players”, they “have name” and despite on size of the self-stake, they are usually more responsible and take care of rules, performance and etc.
Once again, it’s not a guarantee that everything will be perfect if it’s a big or old player, but logically it makes sense to rely on such kinds of Validators, especially when the amount of Validators has quite low limits.

There is no slashing enabled on Polygon so having 1 Matic as self-bond or 1M Matic will be the same. The only difference is really if you can afford to have that amount of tokens parked or not.

Well well well @Mateusz,

So the Polygon foundation dropped one validator spot (Matic Foundation Node 7 - https://staking.polygon.technology/validators/7). To give a spot to Coinbase Cloud https://staking.polygon.technology/validators/142, even before the validator set is expanded, so honest from your end guys, and with only 1 Matic token as self-bond… Why all this theater if you already know who you’re going to onboard?

Your words would be appreciated.

@Constantine_P2P @gioser.eth what are your thoughts on the latest joiners with only 1 Matic of “self-stake”. https://staking.polygon.technology/validators/143, https://staking.polygon.technology/validators/142. ?