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Solana Foundation Delegation Program FAQ

Since the Solana Foundation re-opened the Delegation Program, the community has had some great questions and feedback. The FAQ below seeks to answer the most common questions. If you have additional questions please feel free to ask them in the #solana-foundation-delegation-program Discord channel.

Onboarding Questions

I’m running a validator on testnet now. When will I be onboarded into the Solana Foundation Delegation Program on Mainnet Beta?#

You will be onboarded according to the following criteria : 1) % average Bonus performance since August 2021, 2) % average Bonus performance in the last 30 days, and 3) cumulative vote credits in the last 64 epochs. Your performance in all three categories will determine the exact order in which you will be onboarded. Out of fairness to validators who have been running high quality validator nodes since Tour de SOL, if there are two equally quality validator nodes with the same performance numbers for 1, 2, and 3, precedence will be given to the validator who has been running their node longer (the validator from Tour de SOL). If the two equally quality validator nodes with the same performance numbers for 1, 2, and 3 are both from Tour de SOL, they will be ordered according to TdS stage, from earliest to latest.

We want to reward all validators who are running quality nodes, so validators who signed up during Tour de SOL but are not running a quality node will not be onboarded ahead of high quality operators who’ve signed up for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program since August 2021.

I have an onboarding group number but I haven’t been onboarded yet. Will I lose my onboarding group number in the new process? Will I lose my place in the queue?#

If you have an onboarding group number that is greater than 14, there is no guarantee that your group number will stay the same. We will continue to onboard validators in groups 13 and 14 as we have before. For everyone else, if you have an onboarding group number that’s greater than 14, you will likely receive a new onboarding group number. The new onboarding group number will be based on the following criteria : 1) % average Bonus performance since August 2021, 2) % average Bonus performance in the last 30 days, and 3) cumulative vote credits in the last 64 epochs. Your performance in all three categories will determine the exact order in which you will be onboarded.Starting September 8th, you will be able to see your new onboarding group number here.

The new onboarding process is meant to reward those who have been running their testnet nodes well. This means participants in Tour de SOL who’ve stopped running their testnet nodes will see their onboarding group numbers increase, and newly signed up validators, who are running high quality nodes with good performance, may be onboarded before them.

What does getting onboarded to the Solana Foundation Delegation Program mean?#

Getting onboarded means receiving an email from the Solana Foundation notifying you that 1) your status on the CLI is now approved and 2) you are eligible to receive a delegation of stake from the Solana Foundation if your validator node on Mainnet Beta meets the stated performance criteria outlined here.

How long will it take for me to get staked by the Foundation once I’m onboarded onto Mainnet Beta through the Foundation Delegation Program?#

Once your node on Mainnet Beta meets the stated performance criteria outlined here, it may take up to 4 epochs for the stake delegation from the Solana Foundation to become active.

Do I need to keep running my validator on testnet after I’ve been onboarded to the Delegation Program?#

Yes. Starting August 1, 2021 in order to remain eligible to receive stake delegation from the Solana Foundation, all validators in the Delegation Program must also maintain a well-performing (i.e. staked) testnet node.

Newly Signed up Validators (as of August 2021)

After August 1, 2021, how can I sign up for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program?#

New validators who meet certain performance criteria (see here) and are interested in the program, will be onboarded. Interested parties can apply for the program here.

How do I sign up for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program and what can I do after I sign up?#

Here are four short steps.

Step One: Before registering for the program on the signup portal, create your validator keys and use them to register for the program through the solana-foundation-delegation-program-cli. The CLI documentation will walk through creating your testnet and mainnet validator keypairs for the first time, if you don’t already have these keys. If you already have these keys, use your existing keys to register through the CLI. The CLI registration will create an on-chain record of your registration. This must be done before registering for the program on the Solana Foundation website.

Step Two: Sign up with your testnet and mainnet keys here.

Step Three: Assuming you’ve passed KYC and signed up successfully, you can now start running your testnet validator. Follow the steps here to do so.

Step Four: The stake-o-matic bot will pick up all new testnet keypairs within six weeks of registering. In the meantime, you can follow these instructions to airdrop yourself some testnet SOL and start voting!

How do I get SOL on testnet to start voting?#

After you’ve started up your tesnet validator, you can airdrop yourself some test SOL to get started. You can follow these instructions to learn how to do so.

I just signed up for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program and received an email from the Foundation saying “Thank you for registering”. Am I approved? Is this the same as getting onboarded to the Solana Foundation Delegation Program and receiving stake?#

No. This email confirms that you have registered for the program. You will not be onboarded and receive a delegation as part of the Solana Foundation Delegation Program until you are onboarded. To understand when you will be onboarded please refer to the questions above.

I just signed up for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program at solana.foundation/delegation-program. When will the stake bot on testnet see me?#

Please note that you can start your testnet validator at any time. The stake bot will see your testnet validator in the order you signed up. 100 new validators will be added to the stake bot list at a time, each week, according to when they signed up. This means, if you were one of the first validators to sign up, you will be added by 8/27/21. For validators who signed up by 8/25/21, you will be added up to 6 weeks from 8/2/5/21. We do not currently have a list of exactly when each testnet validator will be added to the testnet stake bot, so please be patient with us as we work on adding everyone to the testnet stake bot in the coming weeks. Note: Being added to the stake bot list does not mean you will get staked by the stake bot.

When will the stake bot stake me?#

After the stake bot sees you (see question above to understand what this entails), and you meet the criteria outlined here, you will be eligible to receive stake from the stake bot on Testnet. Note: In order to meet the criteria you need to start voting. You can airdrop yourself some testnet SOL in order to start voting with these instructions.

I’ve signed up for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program. When do I get my onboarding group number?#

For validators who sign up for the program after August 1st 2021 and meet certain performance criteria, they will receive an onboarding group number starting September 8, 2021, according to the following criteria: 1) % average Bonus performance since August 2021, 2) % average Bonus performance in the last 30 days, and 3) cumulative vote credits in the last 64 epochs.

Do I have to run a testnet validator without rewards or compensation until I am onboarded to the Solana Foundation Delegation Program on Mainnet Beta?#

There are no rewards for running a validator on testnet which means you run the validator at your own cost. Running a testnet validator for months without compensation is a financial decision that every validator must make for themselves. Please note if you stop running your tesnet validator, you will lose your place in the onboarding queue.

I won’t receive a delegation from the Foundation for another 9 months but I want to start my testnet node and start receiving delegations now. What can I do?#

Great question! You can of course start a testnet (and/or mainnet) node at any time. You can self stake or attract external stake in many ways. A few such options could be 1) starting a website and explaining why delegators should stake to you, 2) starting a stake pool that promotes decentralization, or 3) joining a stake pool and receiving additional delegation from them. These are just a few ideas, your fellow validators will have more (and better) ideas for how to do this well.

I already registered for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program on the website but didn’t register via the CLI. Do I still need to register via the CLI?#

Registering for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program via the CLI ensures your registration is on-chain. For a short week after the website was live, the CLI registration was not mandatory in order to sign up. If you were one of the first validators to sign up through the website, please register for the program through the here, you will be eligible to receive stake from the stake bot on Testnet. Note: In order to meet the criteria you need to start voting. You can airdrop yourself some testnet SOL in order to start voting with solana-foundation-delegation-program-cli. This is ultimately how validators are approved/rejected for the program. Registering your validator keys on the website ensures your keys/registration is linked to your KYC entry. In order for new validators to successfully register for the Solana Foundation Delegation Program, validators should do both. Moving forward, if you try to sign up through the website you will need to have first registered your keys via the CLI.

The following criteria apply to all validators, whether or not they have participated in Tour de SOL, or join the program later

What is the criteria for receiving stake from the Foundation on Testnet and Mainnet Beta?#

Detailed here and here:

The criteria to earn stake on a validator node is detailed per epoch in the wiki for Mainnet Beta and Testnet. The following are requirements for receiving stake on Testnet and Mainnet:

To receive baseline stake, a validator must:

  • Have good uptime as determined by the node’s vote credits earned per epoch relative to the number of blocks produced
  • Commission 10% or lower (enforced on Mainnet Beta only)
  • Stake concentration in a single data center must not exceed a certain threshold. Currently, 10% for Mainnet Beta and 25% on Testnet. (Data for this is drawn from this validators.app API and grouped by data_center_key field)
  • Be running recent Solana validator software version
  • The following criteria applies to validators on Mainnet Beta only: starting August 1, 2021 validators on Mainnet Beta must maintain a minimum of 100 SOL of active self-stake. "Self-stake" is defined as a stake account which has a withdraw authority which matches the withdraw authority of the vote account it is delegated to. This ensures that the owner of the validator’s vote account and the owner of the stake account are the same.
  • The following criteria applies to validators on Mainnet Beta only: starting August 1, 2021 validators receiving Foundation stake on Mainnet Beta will also be required to maintain an associated validator on testnet

To receive bonus stake, a validator must:

  • Meet all the baseline stake criteria
  • Must have a block production skip rate not exceeding 35 percentage points (subject to change) above the cluster mean skip rate. For epoch 216 on Mainnet Beta, this skip rate limit was 41%, which is 30 percentage points greater than the cluster average of 11%.