NEAR Foundation Launches New Validator Program To Further Decentralize the Network

December 2, 2021 — NEAR Team


Since NEAR’s Mainnet launch in October 2020, the NEAR Foundation has helped foster the growth and decentralization of a vibrant validator community. Historically, to become a validator, you would apply to the Foundation Delegation Pilot Program, ensure you have the right amount of $NEAR, and meet the program requirements. While this process ensured the continued security of the network, the amount of $NEAR required to be eligible to become a validator was around 3.6 million, locking out many aspiring validators. 

NEAR Foundation is happy to announce we’re making some changes to increase the number of validators who can take part in securing the NEAR network. With the introduction of a validator selection algorithm change, set to go live in mid-December, 2021, we expect the seat price to decrease significantly, allowing more capable validators to join the NEAR validator community. 

Announcing the NEAR Foundation Delegation Program

To support the growth and decentralization of the NEAR ecosystem, and to expand the validator set with the upcoming 1.23.0 Mainnet protocol upgrade, the NEAR Foundation is pleased to announce the NEAR Foundation Delegation Program.

This delegation program is looking to support validators who have contributed to the ecosystem and are ready to join the NEAR Mainnet. To ensure that we select the best and most capable validators, we’re encouraging all existing validators and potential validators to apply. 

NEAR Foundation will make the decision process for the Foundation Delegation as transparent as possible. 

Validator Delegation Program Requirements 

Technical Requirements: We expect the validator to run a NEAR testnet node and a NEAR mainnet node, demonstrating that they are ready and able to maintain nodes on the NEAR network. For mainnet readiness, having a mainnet node with a staking pool ready and standing by December 13th (the nearcore 1.23.0 protocol upgrade date) is a prerequisite for an applicant to receive NEAR Foundation delegation.

We expect all nodes to diligently participate during protocol upgrades. Each node should upgrade to the latest nearcore version within 12 hours of release if the protocol upgrade is labeled “CODE_RED” or “CODE_YELLOW”, and within 24 hours if the protocol upgrade is labeled “CODE_GREEN”. 

Additionally, nodes should show a high uptime on testnet and on mainnet. A monitoring period is implemented to ensure validator nodes have stable operations. 

Marketing Requirements: Beyond technical prowess and uptime, validators who could  demonstrate exceptional customer service to delegators and provide the best educational content to delegators will be considered as prime candidates for receiving NEAR Foundation delegation.

On the mainnet, we ask that validators present themselves to delegators and the NEAR community by providing metadata using the staking pool smart contract. Their name, description, and social media channels should be listed by providing the following metadata using the staking pool smart contract. The identifying information that we require the validators to provide are:

  1. Name
  2. Description 
  3. URL
  4. Country and country code
  5. Email (for support)
  6. Telegram, Discord, or Twitter

This information allows the NEAR community to connect with the validators for support, fostering a two-way communication between validators and delegators, as well as the wider NEAR Ecosystem.

Hosting: Validators self-declare whether they operate nodes themselves or use a third party, as well as whether they run their own hardware or use cloud services. We may ask validators to share some information regarding their setup. 

As NEAR Protocol is carbon neutral, we ask validators to think through how they offset their validator operation’s CO2 footprint, and communicate any CO2 offsetting that they implement on their end, such as using a renewable energy source to operate the nodes.

Commission Limit: We ask validators who would like to apply for a NEAR Foundation delegation to charge no more than 7% commission on delegation.

Ecosystem Participation: Applicants are expected to actively participate in the NEAR Ecosystem. To further evaluate applicants, we ask the applicants to provide as much information as possible on the following questions:

  • How have you contributed to the NEAR Ecosystem in the past? 
  • How will you contribute to the NEAR Ecosystem in the future?
  • Have you helped to onboard any NEAR validator? Please specify the pool name of the validator you helped, and what did you do to help? 
  • What is your long term marketing plan to attract delegation?

Application

If you are interested in becoming a validator and apply to the NEAR Foundation delegation, please submit your NEAR Foundation Delegation Program Application as soon as possible. The applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

December 13, 2021 is the deadline to submit your application.

Existing Delegation: Given the expected reduction in seat price, the NEAR Foundation delegation will be smaller, compared to historical delegation, without jeopardizing decentralization of the network. For the validators who had historically received delegation from the NEAR Foundation, we encourage you to also apply in the same application process. It’s possible that the existing delegation may be reduced to enable additional validators to receive delegations.

Validator Onboarding


If you’re interested in becoming a validator and apply for delegation, we ask that you start by setting up Testnet and Mainnet nodes, then submit your application for delegation.

We have collaborated with the Open Shard Alliance to build a bootcamp to help train new validators. To get started, please check out the Validator Bootcamp and join the Open Shards Alliance server for onboarding, as well as official validators announcement channels on Discord, Telegram and Twitter.

As the NEAR Ecosystem rapidly scales to include new developers and users, we are working to quickly decentralize our organization and foster a vibrant validator community. These moves will be absolutely critical in reimagining the way NEAR’s community members can build, gather, innovate, and grow together.    


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