# Validating on Paloma

Paloma is powered by the Tendermint consensus, an asynchronous, BFT consensus mechanism that uses DPoS (delegated proof of stake). Validators participating in consensus will propose blocks of transactions from the mempool and aim reach consensus by broadcasting votes on their state. Validators on Paloma are required to run full nodes, commit new blocks to the Paloma blockchain, and participate in governance.

Paloma validators are elected into the validator pool by delegated stake from Paloma delegators, and will cast votes on behalf of their delegators. A validator's voting power is weighted according to their total stake.

The top 175 validators make up the active validator set and are the only validators that sign blocks and receive revenue from block production.

# Validator responsibilities

On Paloma, a validator must:

  • Run the correct software versions: Validators need to make sure that their servers are always online, and that their private keys are not compromised.

  • Provide oversight and feedback on the correct deployment of community pool funds: The Paloma protocol includes a governance system for proposals to facilitate the adoption of its currencies. Validators are expected to hold budget executors to provide transparency and to use funds efficiently.

  • Be active members of the community: Validators should always be up-to-date with the current state of the ecosystem so that they can easily adapt to any change.

  • Relay and verify cross-chain messages: Validators must run the Pigeon software, which is a relayer system for Paloma validators to deliver messages cross-chain. View the Pigeon guide for more details.

System administration

Validating requires a significant amount of system administration knowledge and experience. and should be only pursued if a user has significant system administration experience.

Validators are required to stake real value through a bond deposit on the chain in order to participate in consensus. Mis-operation of a validator can led to serious consequences that result in the loss of funds.

When in doubt, never hesitate to reach out to the Paloma or Cosmos community for questions or concerns about validating.

A successful validator operation will require the efforts of multiple highly-skilled individuals and continuous operational attention. Running a validator is considerably more involved than mining bitcoin. Running an effective operation is critical to avoiding unexpected unbonding or being slashed. This includes being able to respond to attacks, outages, as well as to maintain security and isolation in your data center.

New validators

Take advantage of the testnet environment if you would like to get started with validating on Paloma. Start by setting up a full node and understand the different components.

Take the time to dipher what is happening on-chain when blocks are produced, how consensus operates as a state machine, and how consensus is reached. Break down transactions, how validators verify and sign transactions, the block structure, the commitment scheme, and more.

Paloma is an omnichain interoperability protocol built on the CosmosSDK, meaning, validators should understand message passing and cross-chain consensus.

Don't rush into validating if you feel like there are gaps that may jepordize your funds. Of course, there is always a risk when staking on the blockchain, but there is a big difference when staking with confidence and staking without.

# Validator states

After a validator is created with the create-validator transaction, it can be in three states:

  • bonded: A validator that is in the active set and participates in consensus. This validator is earning rewards and can be slashed for misbehavior.

  • unbonding: A validator that is not in the active set and can't not participate in consensus. This validator is not earning rewards but can still be slashed for misbehaviour. This is a transition state from bonded to unbonded. If a validator does not send a rebond transaction while in unbonding mode, it will take three weeks for the state transition to complete.

  • unbonded: A validator that is not in the active set and not signing blocks. Unbonded validators can't be slashed and can't earn any rewards from their operation. It is still possible to delegate GRAIN to unbonded validators. Un-delegating from an unbonded validator is immediate.

All Delegators have the same state as their validator.

Delegations are not necessarily bonded. GRAIN can be delegated and bonded, delegated and unbonding, delegated and unbonded, or liquid.

# Incentive scheme

Each member of a validator's staking pool (validators and their associated delegators) earns revenue:

  • Gas: Transactions are gas metered on Paloma and fees are added onto each transaction to pay for the consumption of computational resources during execution. This also helps to prevent transaction spamming.

  • Inflation rewards: Every block, new GRAIN is minted and released to validators and delegators as staking rewards. The rate for the minting of this new GRAIN is fixed at 7% per year.

This total revenue is divided among a validator's staking pool according to each validator's weight. The revenue is then divided among delegators in proportion to each delegator's stake. Note that a commission on delegators' revenue is applied by the validator before it is distributed.

# Validator commission

Validators can set commissions on the fees they receive as an additional incentive.

The revenue received by a validator's pool is split between a validator and their delegators. A validator can apply a commission on the part of the revenue that goes to its delegators. This commission is set as a percentage. Each validator is free to set its initial commission, maximum daily commission change rate, and maximum commission. The mainnet enforces the parameters that each validator sets. These parameters can only be defined when initially declaring candidacy, and may only be constrained further after being declared.

Validators who set their commission rate to 100% are not seeking delegations as the entire commission goes to them. This is the case when the validator has enough self-stake.

# Block provisions distribution

Block provisions are distributed proportionally to each validator relative to their total stake. This means that even though each validator gains rewards with each provision, all validators will still maintain equal weight.

# Fees distribution

Fees are distributed to validators in the same way as commission: proportionally to each validator relative to their total stake. A Block proposer can also get a bonus if the proposer includes more than the minimum of required precommits.

# Block rewards

When a validator is selected to propose the next block, they must include at least two-thirds of the precommits for the previous block in the form of validator signatures. Proposers who include more than two thirds receive a bonus proportional to the amount of additional precomits. This reward ranges from 1% if the proposer includes two thirds of the precommits to 5% if the proposer includes 100% of the precommits. If a proposer waits too long however, other validators may timeout and move on to the next proposer. This is why validators have to find a balance between wait time to get the most signatures and the risk of losing out on proposing the next block. This feature aims to incentivize non-empty block proposals, better networking between validators, and to mitigate censorship.

Block reward example

There are 10 validators with equal stake. Each has a 1% commission and 20% self-bonded GRAIN. If a successful block collects 1005 SDT in fees, and the proposer includes 100% of the signatures in their block, they will receive the full 5% bonus.

Use this simple equation to find the reward $R$ for each validator:

$$9R ~ + ~ R ~ + ~ 5%(R) ~ = ~ 1005 ~ \Leftrightarrow ~ R ~ = ~ 1005 ~/ ~10.05 ~ = ~ 100$$

  • For the validator that proposes a block:

    • The pool obtains $R ~ + ~ 5%(R)$: 105 SDT
    • Commission: 105 SDT ~ * ~ 80% ~ * ~ 1%$ = 0.84 SDT
    • Validator's reward: 105 SDT ~ * ~ 20% ~ + ~ Commission$ = 21.84 SDT
    • Delegators' rewards: 105 SDT ~ * ~ 80% ~ - ~ Commission$ = 83.16 SDT (each delegator will be able to claim its portion of these rewards in proportion to their stake)
  • For all other validators:

    • The pool obtains $R$: 100 SDT
    • Commission: 100 SDT ~ * ~ 80% ~ * ~ 1%$ = 0.8 SDT
    • Validator's reward: 100 SDT ~ * ~ 20% ~ + ~ Commission$ = 20.8 SDT
    • Delegators' rewards: 100 SDT ~ * ~ 80% ~ - ~ Commission$ = 79.2 SDT (each delegator will be able to claim its portion of these rewards in proportion to their stake)

# Slashing


Even if a validator does not intentionally misbehave, it can still be slashed if its node crashes, loses connectivity, gets DDoSed, or if its private key is compromised.

If a validator misbehaves, their bonded stake along with their delegators' stake will be slashed. The severity of the punishment depends on the type of fault. There are main faults that can result in slashing of funds:

  • Double-signing: If someone reports on chain A that a validator signed two blocks at the same height on chain A and chain B, and if chain A and chain B share a common ancestor, then this validator will get slashed on chain A.

  • Unavailability: If a validator's signature has not been included in the last X blocks, the validator will get slashed by a marginal amount proportional to X. If X is above a certain limit, then the validator will get unbonded.

# Additional resources