A validator is commonly defined as a computer program used to check the validity or syntactical correctness of a fragment of code or document.
In the case of a validator on the Helium network, validators are computer programs that are used to verify and keep accurate records of communication across the network.
Why do we get rewarded to be a Validator?
The job of a validator is extremely important, because without accurate and secure communications over the network – there is no network. In order to qualify for this critical job, we must prove that we want to be validator. One of the most effective ways of proving something is by sacrifice, or an initiation of sorts. In this case, we must prove we are worthy of this job by putting skin in the game. We do this by providing something of monetary value that we cannot immediately access or use (and in some cases, may lose) while we hold this important position to ensure we do a good job keeping the network healthy.
In the blockchain game, we call this Proof-of-Stake. The Stake is the skin in the game, and in this particular case, 10,000 HNT tokens.
Why would we want to prove our desire and sacrifice a monetary stake? To be rewarded of course! “Ass, cash, or percent of allocated monthly token issuance” is how the saying goes I believe.
Validators are simply rewarded for their critical work in operating the network and for their sacrifice in order to perform such an important duty. Rewards also incentivize the participation of more validators. But why does the network want more validators?
Why are there so many validators?
In order to understand this, we must first touch upon the fundamentals of a blockchain. A blockchain is simply a secure record-keeping system. The security of blockchain comes from its decentralization, or the aspect that the control is spread out among multiple people or parties, drastically decreasing its vulnerability.
If we think of computer record-keeping systems as a Death Star, the credentials to access the central server is like the exhaust port leading to the center of the Death Star. If a hacker in their metaphorical X-Wing fires the “perfect shot”, they can catastrophically compromise the entire system. Traditional computer record-keeping systems have one exhaust port – they are centralized.
The decentralization of a blockchain is like having hundreds of exhaust ports (validator nodes) that would all (or at least 51%) need the “perfect shot” simultaneously to compromise the system. The TIE fighters win virtually every time and the system stays secure.
So what is a Consensus Group?
This brings us to consensus groups. Think of the Consensus Group as a wise council that is elected from a group responsible and trustworthy individuals (validators) that is put in charge of verifying and securing the communications over the network. To improve security, these individuals only serve on this council for a short period of time as to decrease their exposure to threats or simply failure to perform. However, while they serve on the council and perform their duties well, they are rewarded handsomely – which translates to the HNT earned by validators while they are elected to the consensus group. 🎈
For more information on Validators, see the HIP 25 documentation here.