Hi All! I've seen many question on the Polygon discord about how to pick a validator and what to look for. I'm here to let you know all the numbers you can look at and what to consider when choosing a validator to delegate to.
Above we have the main staking page for a validator. There is a lot to see here, but all of it isn't needed when picking a validator.
Let's look at each piece of information:
- Owner and Signer address: If you really want to dig into the owner of a Validator, you can see how much ETH/Matic they have in their wallet and pretty much anything you want on etherscan.
- Checkpoint Signed: This is the percentage of checkpoints the validator has signed out of the past 200. You can consider this the uptime for the validator based on the past week. If a validator misses 1 checkpoint, they're already down to 99.5%, miss 2 they're down to 99%, etc, so this percentage drops pretty quickly.
- Commission: The commission is how much the validator receives based on the total rewards of their delegators; like a fee for their service. For example, say a delegator stakes 10,000 Matic to Vault Staking, which has a 3% commission. With a reward APY of 20%, the delegator would receive 1,940 Matic over the year, while the validator would receive 60 Matic (totaling 2,000 Matic; 20% of 10,000).
- Ethereum Wallet Balance: This is how much Matic currently in the Signer address.
- Total Stake/Number of Delegators: You can see how many Matic have been delegated to this validator (including the self-stake), and how many different addresses have delegated on this screen.
- Self Stake: The self stake is how many Matic the owner has staked to their own validator. This is important for a few reasons. First, now that we have the maximum of 100 validators, if a new team wants to run a validator they will have to bid against existing validators to take their spot. They do this by having a higher self-stake than an existing validator. Second, this is not able to be withdrawn without removing the validator from service; meaning they are locked in as long as the validator is active. When slashing is implemented, a higher self stake is more incentive to maintain significant uptime and maintain a positive role in the network.
- Total Withdrawn Rewards/Total Rewards Earned: Total withdrawn rewards are how many Matic the validator has withdrawn since they started, while the Total Rewards Earned is how much they've earned since they started, inclusive of the total withdrawn rewards. Using the picture above, Vault Staking has earned a total of 10,125 Matic and withdrawn 8,228 Matic, leaving 1,897 Matic ready to be withdrawn.
- Heimdall Fees: This is the fees the validator has received on the Polygon Network.
I wanted to separate what each detail meant and what my opinion is on how to interpret them.
- Owner and Signer address: You can interpret this data as you wish; there is nothing that should convince you one way or another.
- Checkpoint Signed: This is the validator's uptime based on roughly the past week (200 checkpoints). Even if a validator has a short outage, they will quickly drop to high- and mid-90%. If they have an extend outage or a server issue, they can quickly be in the 80-90% range. While we all pride ourselves of having 100% uptime, issues do occur for every validator. Just recently, some of the bigger validators with actual support teams dropped as low as 75% because of issues with the network and their validator. So don't just pick a validator based on name, anyone can have a bad day. If you ask me, a validator above 90% should be acceptable, assuming that doesn't happen often.
- Commission: Everyone wants to delegate to a 100% uptime and 0% commission validator, but neither of these will last forever. In terms of commission, 0% isn't sustainable, especially for larger validators that sign checkpoints often (having to spend ~$300-400 for gas each time). You can pick a 0% commission to start with, and not know if, when, and to what percentage they will hike up their commission, or you can delegate to an already low-percentage validator since there is a very good chance they will keep that commission for a longer time. The option is yours; personally, anything 5% or under should be acceptable assuming they have good uptime.
- Ethereum Wallet Balance: You could use this to see if they plan on increasing their stake anytime soon, but otherwise not too valuable.
- Total Stake/Number of Delegators: This is good to see how many other people trust the validator with their delegation. In this case, I ask that you look for a trustworthy validator (comparing checkpoints signed and commission)with less total stake as this is what's best for the network. If everyone delegates to, say, the top 3 validators, they will have more power and can lead to an insecure network.
- Self Stake: I gave some of the reasons above why a higher self stake is preferable. Probably the biggest is they will have a harder time being removed from the active validators. When a validator is remove to make way for a new validator that bid higher, all delegates to the old validator would have to unbond and find a new validator to stake with.
- Total Withdrawn Rewards/Total Rewards Earned: This is how much the validator has earned since they first started their validator, so the time frame varies for each validator.
- Heimdall Fees: Nothing important enough to base your pick on.
Why pick Vault Staking?
- I have 100% uptime, and have not had any large outages which means delegators receive the maximum rewards.
- At 3%, my commission is high enough that I will not have to increase it, and low enough that it shouldn't impact delegators total rewards too much. If the APY is 20%, delegators only miss out on 0.6% in rewards. This commission is used for setting up redundant servers and highly-available resources to ensure we stay at or close to 100% uptime.
- At over 68,000 Matic self-staked, I am one of the highest self-staked validators on the network. This is both incentive to keep a high uptime, and a deterrent that I will keep my validator spot and not be outbid by a prospective validator.
- One thing not available on the Validator webpage, I am transparent! I update this blog before any major changes and many delegators have reach out with questions on Discord. I try to be part of the community and help how I can. Reach out anytime to say hi, ask a question, or provide a suggestion!
If you haven't yet, go over to Vault Staking and check us out. As always, let me know if you have any questions. You can always reach out in the comments, find me active in the Polygon/Matic Discord server, or reach on on DM (AlgoRhythm#2931). Thanks for reading!