The validator community is a critically important part of the NEAR ecosystem. Validators operate the blockchain and without them, every project would grind to a halt. Historically, there have been some attempts at organizing NEAR validators around a common objective of making NEAR more decentralized––which would make the network more secure, resilient, and antifragile––but none has yet achieved traction.
In the meantime, Pagoda assumed a lot of responsibility in building a healthy validator community, including collecting feedback, conducting NPS surveys, organizing various meetings to discuss important issues and updates, and identifying opportunities to grow the validator community.
For stronger decentralization of the NEAR ecosystem, it makes sense for the NEAR validator community to self-organize and create a governance structure to represent the interests of validators. There are already other working groups in the NEAR ecosystem that serve as the governing body for protocol, standards, contract standards, wallet standards, and tools.
I propose the formation of a Validator Working Group that focuses on the health and growth of NEAR’s validator community. More specifically, the validator working group should:
- Collect feedback from validators about their experience of operating a validator node on NEAR. This includes bug reports, feature requests, common problems that validators run into when operating their nodes, etc.
- Regularly communicate with the Protocol Working Group to relay the feedback, understand the development roadmap of the Protocol, and what the upcoming changes mean for validators.
- Advocate for running a validator on NEAR and growing the NEAR validator community, especially with the recent edition of chunk-only producers with the launch of Nightshade phase 1. This includes improving documentation for validators, organizing events, and producing relevant content to advocate for NEAR.
- Have a dedicated point of contact who can handle requests about NEAR validators
The validator working group should consist of validators who are passionate about NEAR and growing the validator community. There are good incentives for this to happen among the validators themselves, in addition to the obvious one of validator rewards: validators supporting one another and recruiting new validators will result in a more resilient and valuable ecosystem. Similar to other working groups, there is no monetary reward in principle for working group members, but one-off efforts such as event organization may be reimbursed through Developer DAO.
To the rest of the NEAR community: the opportunity to become a chunk-only producer and join the validator community is more accessible than you may realize. The cost in NEAR and in terms of hardware requirements is lower than ever, thanks to the evolution of NEAR’s sharding and network architecture. Earning rewards while increasing the decentralization of the network and helping to maintain its security will all make NEAR a stronger and more valuable ecosystem in the long run.
If you are a validator on NEAR and are interested in organizing or joining the validator working group, please comment on this post to express interest.