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What is a validator?

We use validator as the name for nodes that are engaged in building and maintaining the network. There are three different roles validators are automatically selected to do:
  1. 1.
    Block producer
  2. 2.
    Chunk-Block producer
  3. 3.
    Fishermen are validators
The block producer is responsible for creating and broadcasting the block that contains all the current chunks (shard blocks). In comparison, the chunk producer collects transactions for the given shard.
The collection of transactions for the shard is called a chunk. Once a chunk and a block is created, the information has to be communicated to other chunk producers, fisherman and other validator nodes on the network. Fisherman and other validator nodes provide security by verifying the validity of state transitions in different blocks.

How do I become a validator?

You need an account with sufficient amount of funds. Follow the docs here to understand how to become a validator, and here to run a node.
More specific steps: 1. Create a new key pair that will be used for staking for given account, and load it with the funds you want to put at stake 2. Start a node with the new key pair stored in validator_key.json 3. Send a staking transaction using your wallet / CLI with your account including amount and public key from newly generated key pair. 4. Wait until the node becomes a validator
heads up External validators can't join MainNet or TestNet, they can only test their nodes on BetaNet. More info below

What is 'staking'?

We call staking a process of sending StakeTransaction that informs the network that a given account wants to become a validator in upcoming epochs. This particular type of transaction must provide a public key and staking amount. After the transaction is sent, a node that has a private key associated with the public key in the staking transaction must wait until two epochs to become a validator. important: a node can become a validator only if the amount in the staking transaction is above the seat price defined by the protocol.

What is an Epoch?

An epoch is the interval of time that consists of several consensus rounds. Note that there is no guarantee of the exact number of consensus rounds. Currently, one epoch lasts for about the duration of half a day and is used to
  • Measure the performance and uptime of validators
  • Collect the bids from new validators
For one epoch, validators are randomly assigned into shards. After the epoch is over, validators are reshuffled and assigned to different shards. Validators participate in several validation rounds within the epoch. For each round, one of the validators in each shard is chosen to be the chunk producer and one validator is chosen of the entire set of validators to be the block producer.

What is a minimum amount to stake as a validator?

On the MainNet, the minimum amount is dynamic, and is defined by the amount of NEAR tokens put at stake by other validators.

What is a slashing behavior?

In order to secure its Proof-of-Stake network, NEAR Protocol punish the validators that commit invalid state transitions. An example is signing two blocks with the same height (this is also defined as 'equivocation'). When this happens, the validator's stake is progressively destroyed, or 'slashed', based on the entity of the attack.

Is NEAR enforcing liveness fault slashing?

No. However, the protocol measures the uptime of each validator, and if the generated blocks are less than 90% of expected, the node will be kicked-out and lose its seat. In this case, a validator can re-stake after two epochs, and begin to sign blocks again after three epochs.

What are the responsibilities of a validator?

High level, validators must run node and be mostly online. Also, they have to be constantly connected on the official Slack chat in the #community-validator-announcement channel, in case of emergencies and upcoming hard forks. Also, it is very important to keep private keys safe, otherwise adversaries might use them to sign malicious blocks, and trigger the protocol slashing.

Can I stake on a different shard?

There's no way for a validator to decide the shard. The protocol randomly assigns validators to shards at the beginning of each epoch. The node has one epoch to download its state. NEAR nodes have an automatic 'garbage collection' routine that deletes the state of previous shards after five epochs, to free up unused storage. Large validators will have to generate blocks signing across multiple shards, therefore it's important to size server and networking accordingly.

How do I run a node?

Follow this tutorial.

Do validators receive incentives for testing the protocol?

We don’t offer rewards to validators at this point in time. However, we may offer bounties for reporting critical bugs or valuable contributions to the codebase on GitHub. Just keep an eye for all the “good first issue” posts. In the meantime, join the channel #community-validator-announcement on our Official Slack to be constantly updated, and be the first to know if we plan to offer incentives in the future.

How does delegating staking works?

NEAR doesn’t implement delegation on the protocol level. Instead NEAR allows smart contracts to stake, because in NEAR contracts and accounts are the same.
Thus, if validators want to accept delegated stake, they must deploy a contract with specific rules of how delegation and reward splitting works and advertise that contract as destination to delegate. See the delegation docs for more.

Where can I find the neardev/ folder?

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Once you run 'near login', a folder, called 'neardev', will be created in the directory in which you ran 'near login'.

Can I be a validator on the TestNet network?

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Not at this time. MainNet and TestNet networks are run only by a set of permissioned validators. If you want to test your setup, you can configure your node to run on BetaNet, by following the tutorial on Github and requesting some BetaNet tokens via this form.

Why did my node get kicked-out of the validation process on BetaNet?

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Considering that you are running betanet, you might be kicked out because your node is not producing enough blocks. Please try again or open an issue on GitHub if you are experiencing reoccurring issues.
Please note that sometimes we had to reset the BetaNet, and nodes might need to be reinstalled to work properly. We normally announce these updates in our official join the channel #community-validator-announcement on our Official Slack and Stake Wars repo on Github.

After logging in using NEAR CLI with 'near login', I always receive an error message “Exceeded 10 status check attempts.” How should I solve this?

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This means that something is broken in the wallet, please reach out to us on Slack for troubleshooting.

Could someone permissionlessly delegate to me as a validator?

Last Updated: 20200501
It is important to remember that delegation is not implemented on the protocol level, which means each validator can have their own contract that they use to attract delegators. Delegation is supposed to be permissionless, but of course the validators can write their own staking contract to be permissioned if they would like. Also they get to decide commission fees and how reward distribution works.

My stake has been delegated but rewards aren't showing up. How do I see them?

Last updated: 20201022
If a staking pool hasn't had an action applied to it recently (like someone delegating or undelegating), it will show an old balance on all staked accounts (which may show up on your wallet account). To see an updated balance, you can "ping" the pool. See the delegation docs and search for ping for how to do this.
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