What is A Validator? How to Pick a Good Staking Validator?


This article dives deep into staking validators and how they work in the blockchain world. We’ll explore what validators do, how they impact transactions, the rewards and penalties involved, and what to think about when picking the right staking validator for you.

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In the world of DeFi (decentralized finance), there are many platforms for staking. This means people have lots of choices to make the most of their investments. Staking has become really popular in DeFi because it lets you earn rewards on the digital coins you own. It’s not just about making money, though. Staking is much more than that as it also helps keep the platform safe and spread out, so no one controls too much.

Staking works like this: you lock up your digital coins for a while, and this helps the whole blockchain network perform better and be secure. Validators on the blockchain use these locked-up coins to have more say in a type of blockchain called Proof-of-Stake (PoS). When there are more validators, the blockchain becomes even more spread out and strong. This makes it really hard for bad actors to attack.

Now the question that arises is that how do you pick a good staking validator to trust your coins with? This guide has the answers. It shows you what’s smart to do and what’s not when you’re choosing a staking validator. But first we will take a quick look at what Proof-of-Stake is and how a staking validator works.

What is Proof-of-Stake (PoS)?

Think of Proof of Stake (PoS) as the guardian of a blockchain network. It’s a sophisticated method where validators play the role of vigilant overseers, using their own tokens to vouch for the legitimacy of transactions. Unlike the energy-intensive Proof of Work (PoW), PoS takes a gentler approach, sidestepping the need for massive energy and computing resources. This not only makes it more environmentally friendly but also opens the door to greater scalability.

In this setup, validators lock up their tokens as a pledge of their commitment to honesty. When they diligently validate transactions, they’re rewarded for their integrity. This creates a strong incentive for them to excel in their duties. Nonetheless, PoS isn’t without its challenges. The art of choosing the right validator becomes crucial, and the careful management of tokens is paramount. Mistakes could lead to penalties. It’s a delicate balancing act, ensuring the smooth operation of the system while upholding its security.

What is a Staking Validator?

Imagine the blockchain as a giant puzzle that needs constant updates and upkeep. Whether it’s a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) or Proof-of-Work (PoW) system, this job is taken on by a network of computers spread across different places.

These computers, often called nodes or servers, have a special role to play. They check every transaction and make sure the blockchain stays correct. In PoS blockchains, they go by the name “validators.” Together, they form a protective shield around the blockchain, making sure it’s safe and the transactions are real.

Now, in a PoS blockchain, lots of validators want to add the next block. But only a few get to do it. How? Well, it’s like a contest. The ones with the most tokens locked up get the chance. This shows they’re serious about keeping the network going strong.

For all their hard work, validators get rewards. They earn new tokens, and users of the network also pay them a small fee for their service with each transaction. It’s kind of like a thank-you gift.

Validators also have to follow the rules. If they try to cheat or break things, they get punished. One slip-up, and they might lose some of their tokens. It’s a way to keep everyone playing fair and the network secure.

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Qualities to Look for in a Staking Validator

When choosing a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) validator, there are several key qualities to keep in mind. These aspects help you make an informed decision and maximize your staking experience.

Security Matters

A trustworthy validator puts security first. Look for those with strong defenses against cyberattacks and system failures. Their node architecture, backup mechanisms, encryption methods, and audit records are indicators of their security. To verify these aspects, tools like CertiK, Quantstamp, and Trail of Bits can be handy. Assess their track record in handling incidents too.

Governance and Alignment

Validator governance influences network decisions. Opt for validators aligned with the network’s vision and values. Their involvement in voting, proposing changes, and communication methods matter. Monitoring platforms such as Polkadot Governance, Cosmos Governance, and Tezos Governance offer insights into their governance activities. Don’t forget to explore their mission statement and community engagement.

Reputable Performance

A reliable validator consistently validates blocks, maintains high uptime, and adheres to ethical practices. Key performance indicators include uptime, commission rate, self-bonded stake, slash rate, and social media presence. Platforms like Staking Rewards, Staking Facilities, and Staked provide metrics to compare validators. User feedback and reviews also offer valuable insights.

Rewards and Returns

Earning rewards is a major motivation for staking. Validator rewards depend on performance, commission, and adherence to rules. Estimating returns can be done using tools like Staking Calculator, Staking Rewards Calculator, and Staking Dashboard. Ensure you’re aware of the validator’s payout policy and frequency.

Technical Competence

While PoS doesn’t demand extensive hardware, validators should possess technical expertise for seamless node setup and operation. Uninterrupted uptime is crucial for better staking returns. Industrial-grade internet and regular updates are indicative of a quality validator. They should also offer updates via a website or social media to keep you informed.

Fee Structure

Validators charging fees impact your returns. Opt for validators with reasonable fees to maximize your gains. However, avoid those with 0% fees as they might not be eligible for future airdrops. Keep in mind that excessively high fees could eat into your returns.

A comprehensive evaluation of these qualities can help you make the right choice while picking a validator.

Staking on Centralized Exchanges

Indeed, you can stake your tokens through a centralized exchange. The convenience is a clear advantage, as you can avoid concerns about managing keys and the staking process. However, there are some noteworthy drawbacks. Since the exchange holds your token’s private keys, you might miss out on project-related airdrops.

Also, staking via centralized platforms contradicts the idea of decentralization, impacting the network’s overall health. Additionally, exchanges generally offer lower Annual Percentage Yields (APYs) compared to independent validators.

Moreover, the sheer convenience can backfire, as centralized exchange nodes can become unwieldy and harmful for network security. They are also often excluded from airdrop distributions. This can be significant, especially for tokens like ATOM that frequently have airdrops. It’s important to note that exchange nodes might levy exorbitant commissions, cutting into your potential earnings.

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Understanding Penalties for Validators

In the event of a validator facing penalties, their staked tokens or collateral are locked up for a specific duration. These tokens can’t be accessed during this locked period. Penalties are imposed as a consequence of malicious actions, and the severity of the penalty can differ. This directly influences the validator’s overall earnings, which in turn affects the staking returns.

Importantly, it’s crucial to note that penalties usually impact only the rewards earned, not the original staking amount. Your tokens remain intact, and the principal amount isn’t affected. This ensures your initial investment remains secure, regardless of any penalties incurred.


In the world of blockchain, staking validators play a crucial role. These validators ensure the accuracy of transactions and the security of the blockchain. By locking up their tokens, they verify transactions in a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) system, earning rewards and enhancing network reliability. When choosing a staking validator, factors like security, governance alignment, and reputation matter. It is crucial to keep all these factors in mind while choosing a validator. The right validator can minimize your risks and can also give you extra sense of security.

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