Gorilla’s In The Mist
Running a pool has never been an easy task, and has become even harder now that it has become very difficult if not impossible to track performance.
Shelley Explorer has become totally worthless, since it is no longer possible to verify if produced blocks were added to the chain. That is, unless you’re interested in yesterday’s blocks of course.
But also Adapools (which seems to pull its results from Shelley Explorer) is not longer showing actual produced blocks. Pooltool still is operational, but not always reliably counting blocks; sometimes too many, sometimes skipping one or two.
So, as a block producer it feels like trying to find your way through heavy fog, with the risk of bumping into other pool operators for a competitive slot clash. pooltool.io/competitive was a great place to double check if sometimes blocks were lost to another pool (for redundant block assignments scheduled at the same time, which happens for approximately 10% of all blocks). But also that information source is now lost, after someone decided to attack it by feeding it with wrong data…
Solid performance in epoch 41, but too many blocks lost halfway through epoch 42, which unfortunately will negatively impact rewards for this epoch. It is not really possible to explain what caused this drop, other than that within the current testnet environment you never can rely on your node doing a decent job if not babysitting it 24/7…
Let’s wait and see at the end of the epoch, but I expect most other pools have been suffering in similar ways.
There is also good news, as 4ADA is no longer in oversaturated territory, clearing the path for increased rewards in epoch 43!
4ADA2 is doing quite well, with very good ROI results, capturing virtually all blocks assigned. Which is quite an achievement, since keeping a smaller pool alive is so much harder, since just one missed block has a much bigger impact.
Live stake for 4ADA2 has increased during epoch 42 so we expect more blocks to come our way!
Testnet, or the tale of a blind cripple?
To be honest, the Testnet is not in good shape in my opinion. Without rediculous efforts from pool operators; running many nodes simultaneously, inventing sophisticated scripting, or outright babysitting their pools 24/7, the Shelley-net would come to a screeching halt in no time. The Shelley explorer is dead since several days, and also Daedalus wallet is very difficult to use for delegators (for me no problem since I synchronize Daedalus with our own pools).
Because of these problems, there is no healthy relationship between the effort made by all pool operators and their rewards. Most pool operators keep doing it just to help the project go forward and to not let down their delegators, hoping to build a good reputation and some awareness for their pools, once mainnet goes live.
On the other hand, should IOHK be capable to launch an updated version of the jormungandr software which reliably converts slots into blocks, allowing pool operators to focus on their marketing and optimizing their infrastructure, my opinion could change very quickly as well.
As always, happy staking!