How do I know which validators to choose? Print
Modified on: Fri, 7 May, 2021 at 10:03 AM
If you're wondering how to stake on Polkadot, this article has important information on how to decide which validators to pick.
The following information is specific to nominating on polkadot.js.
It is important to do your own research before nominating as there is a risk (of slashing) if your validators misbehave.
The Targets tab in the Staking section of polkadot.js gives the following information on all the validators and also allows you to nominate from this page.
Best Practices for Nominating: Points to consider
1. Choose more than one validator
As long as at least one of the validators you nominate is elected by the system, your bonded stake will be fully distributed to the active validators. 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 you can (up to 16).
2. Check if the validator has verified their identity
Clicking on the validator’s name (in the Staking Overview or on the Targets page) will give a pop-up with their background details if provided. Since it is a decentralized system, not all validators have verified their identity with a registrar on Polkadot. Registered validators are marked by a green icon (with a checkmark or chain) next to their name. This affirms that their information – including Twitter address, email, or website – has been confirmed.
To see only the list of registered validators, activate the “only with an identity” button in the top right of the screen.
If validators are on this list but are greyed out, they are in the process of having their identity identified.
3. Be aware of the “most profitable” option.
The targets tab provides a “most profitable” button. Clicking on this will automatically select the currently most profitable validators. To accept this suggestion, simply click on the “Nominate selected” button and afterward “Nominate”.
4. Pay attention to the quoted commission
Block rewards are shared with nominators, but the validators set the commission that they take out for their costs before profits are given out. This rate can vary greatly.
Be aware, 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 it is recommended to keep an eye on who you are nominating while you are staking. The current commission rates are given under the “comm.” column.
5. Make sure the validator is not oversubscribed
Only the top 256 nominators for a specific validator get paid. (This number was previously 64 and 128 which you may still hear mentioned in tutorial videos.) The scale icon highlights validators that are over this limit. These are still active, but to maximize your rewards you may want to choose others with fewer nominations.
Note: Nominating on Polkadot is an active role. If you just "set it and forget it" you may stop earning rewards if you don't notice that some of your validators became oversubscribed.
To make sure you're not losing out on rewards, keep checking your validators and choose new ones if necessary. To check whether you are nominating an oversubscribed validator, see here.
6. See how much “skin in the game” the validator has
The “own stake” column shows how many of their own DOT tokens the validator has put up as a stake and the “total stake” column shows how much your stake will count towards them.
7. Get some background details
Information, such as the era points, elected stake, rewards & slashes can be found by clicking the graph icon on the far right of each validator.
When you have decided on your validators, check the stars (left) next to those you want to support on the Targets page to add them to your favorites. This will bring them to the top of the list of validators. To nominate them, check the box at the far right. When you have made your selection, click “Nominate selected” (top right) and follow the nomination process.
The following video gives further points to consider, explaining how the basic system of staking in Polkadot works, and how to balance risk and rewards when choosing a validator.
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 in the conversation on the official Polkadot Network Telegram channel, or on the Polkadot Beginner’s Lounge and Polkadot Watercooler on Element/Riot.
Further information on nominating can be found in the Polkadot Wiki.
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