How Do I Know Which Validators to Choose? Print
Modified on: Tue, 13 Jun, 2023 at 8:08 PM
If you're wondering how to stake on Polkadot, this article has important information on deciding which validators to pick.
It is essential to do your own research before nominating and to keep monitoring your nominations. Nominating on Polkadot is an active role. If your active validator misbehaves, you may lose funds due to slashing. If you just "set it and forget it," you may stop earning rewards over time.
If you do not wish to monitor your selections continually, you can consider joining a nomination pool instead of staking solo. These articles can help you with that:
This article points out some things to consider when choosing your validators. If you want to dive a bit more into the topic, we suggest reading this blog post from our research team.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Best Practices for Nominating: Points to consider
1. Choose more than one validator
If at least one of the validators you nominate is elected by the election algorithm to be in the active set, you will nominate them with your entire stake. However, there is a risk of getting no rewards if you nominate very few validator candidates and none of them are chosen. Therefore, it is safer to choose as many trustworthy validators as possible (up to 16 on Polkadot and up to 24 on Kusama).
2. Check if the validator has verified their identity
If a validator has set its identity, you'll see the details on the Community tab of the Staking Dashboard or by clicking on the validator's name on the Targets page of Polkadot-JS UI. Besides a displayed name, a validator can indicate their email, website, Twitter account, or something else. You can filter out validators without identities both on the Staking Dashboard and Polkadot-JS UI. However, not all validators have verified their identity with a registrar on Polkadot. Validators with a verified identity are marked by a green icon next to their name on Polkadot-JS UI. Verified identity affirms that the validator's contact information and name have been confirmed.
3. Be aware of the "most profitable" option
The Targets tab of Polkadot-JS UI provides a "most profitable" button. Clicking on this will automatically select the currently most profitable validators. To accept this suggestion, click on the "Nominate selected" button and afterward, "Nominate."
Although it may be enticing to select based only on this criterion, this choice may not be the best one. You need to ensure you're choosing good validators by considering the other factors in this guide and video.
4. Pay attention to the quoted commission
Block rewards are shared with nominators, but the validators set the commission they take out for their costs before profits are given out. This rate can vary greatly.
Be aware that if you nominate a validator with 100% commission, you will get NO rewards. These validators are not looking for nominators! Also, commissions can change, so keeping an eye on who you are nominating while you are staking is recommended. Both the Staking Dashboard and Polkadot-JS UI let you sort validators based on the commissions and filter out validators with high ones.
Selecting validators with 0% commission may also be enticing, but make sure that the validator isn't cutting on infrastructure costs to make up for this 0% commission. It's usually better to choose validators with higher commissions if you trust them more. The impact of the commission on the rewards is pretty small, after all.
5. Make sure the validator is not oversubscribed
Only the top 512 nominators for a specific validator get paid. The validators over this limit are marked with a scale icon on Polkadot-JS UI and a red warning sign on the Staking Dashboard. These validators can be active, and if you choose them, you may actively support them in an era. However, if you're below the 512 cutoffs, you won't receive any rewards for it.
It's also a good idea to avoid validators with a high number of nominators, even if they're not oversubscribed, because they may get oversubscribed soon.
Both the Staking Dashboard and Polkadot-JS UI let you filter out oversubscribed validators.
6. See how much "skin in the game" the validator has
On Polkadot-JS UI, the "own stake" column shows how many of their own DOT tokens the validator has put up as a stake. The "total stake" column shows how much your stake will count towards them.
Keep in mind, though, that validators with low "self-stake" don't necessarily have low "skin in the game." Usually, these validators nominate themselves from other accounts, so they do run a risk of losing their own funds if they get slashed.
7. Get some background details
More information, such as the era points, elected stake, rewards & slashes, can be found on Polkadot-JS UI by clicking the graph icon on the far right of each validator.
ℹ️ GOOD TO KNOW
When you have decided on your validators, add them to your Favourites: click on the heart icon on the Staking Dashboard or the star icon on Polkadot-JS UI. This will allow you to quickly select them as your nominations later.
Check online and join the community
Many Polkadot validators also publish YouTube videos or guides to staking on Medium to boost their reputation and attract nominators.
Community members on the forums often share their recommendations and experiences. Join the conversation on our Polkadot Watercooler on Element/Matrix.
Further information on nominating can be found in the Polkadot Wiki.
The following video gives further points to consider, explaining how the basic staking system in Polkadot works and how to balance risk and rewards when choosing a validator.
ℹ️ GOOD TO KNOW
Only the top 512 nominators for a specific validator get paid. This number was previously 128 and 256, which you may still hear mentioned in tutorial videos.
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