What makes a Testnet, well… a Testnet?

The Challenge

Some of you probably already noticed that since a few days rewards have not been as high as theoretically possible. Extremely poor Testnet stability has made it practically impossible to successfully convert all of the assigned slot leadership tasks into blocks, and their corresponding block rewards.

Despite advanced monitoring, restart and failover scripts, it is at the moment no longer possible to successfully capture more than 75% of blocks automatically. Anyone’s claim that they can, should in my opinion be taken with a grain of salt.

What sort of impact will such poor network stability have on pool performance? To a certain extent, the largest and smallest pools can steer through this situation somewhat more easily:

  • Large, oversaturated pools (90M+) can afford to produce only half or two-thirds of the assigned blocks and still produce enough rewards to be at/near the max reward cap, equivalent to producing approx. 30 blocks. However, since they are oversaturated, delegator rewards will still remain rather small;
  • Small pools could afford to check for any slot assignments at the start of each epoch, then manually try to sync their pool a few times a day to catch a small handful of blocks.

Larger pools, just below saturation level, such as [4ADA], are however in a delicate situation: they have block assignments every hour of the day, but cannot afford to miss even a small portion of them, as this will immediately negatively impact performance. For this reason, some of these stakepools will continue to babysit their nodes; keeping them 24/7 under close surveillance and intervening anytime if required. If you want to get an idea of the ambiance, go check out the CardanoStakePoolWorkgroup channel on Telegram 🙂

The Struggle

For [4ADA], over the past few days we have been stretching our limits to what we think is an effort which is in line with the merits of the Testnet in its current state. We think it is only fair to inform you, as our much appreciated delegator, that –until the Testnet shows improved stability– we can no longer guarantee to capture all of those much wanted blocks on every hour of every day for the [4ADA] pool.

[4ADA2] delegators will continue to benefit from our 24/7 around the clock commitment, at least as long as the number of assigned slots remains modest (up to 10).

To clarify the status of both pools at all times, each pool will be flagged -starting tomorrow- with a “service level %” on our homepage.

Hope Is Our Future

Let me be clear: staking4ADA continues with full dedication to provide all of our delegators with the highest rewards we are able to generate; and to support the on-going development of the Shelley Testnet and the vision of the Cardano project as a whole.

Additionally, it is my absolute pleasure to keep you informed through this Pool Blog, via Twitter and our Telegram announcement channel, about the general state of the network; new and upcoming Jormungandr and wallet software releases and what to expect of them, and with tips on how to evaluate stakepool performance and how to select today’s and tomorrow’s winners.

In the meantime, let’s hope that IOHK will soon be able to deliver improved releases of the Jormungandr software. They have made remarkable progress in Q4 of last year, and hopefully have recovered from well deserved holidays over the past weeks.

Happy staking!!

Jos.