Selecting a network to validate on is a form of investment analysis. As validators, we're investing time, attention and capital into supporting the networks we choose to validate on. Smaller validators have less margin for error in this analysis, because our resources are more limited than larger, well capitalized staking companies who operate validators.
The paradox is that our analysis resources are limited too. This makes it difficult to spend the time and attention required to complete proper analysis. The current reality is also that quantitative analysis is a big unknown. It depends quite a bit on project future performance of an unproven technology.
For these reasons, I add equal doses of experimentation and trusting my own intuition, as well as quantitative analysis into the equation.
That said, here are some of the factors that influence my decision process -
1 - Project Mission and Values
Do the project's mission and values align with mine? For example, does the project believe in using blockchain technology to make a positive impact on the world, by enabling new and disruptive paradigms and operating models, particularly in those areas of power controlled by oligopolies in today's society?
2 - Team
Do I have confidence and faith the team is well-intended, aligned with the projects mission and values, capable of solving hard problems, as well as executing on a plan to deliver a real product people will use?Am I able to connect on some personal level with one or more team members?
3 - Timeline
How far along is the project? Is it new enough that I can make an impact and develop a reputation and trust in the community? Is it not so far away from becoming reality that I need to run on the test nets for an indeterminate amount of time, especially greater than 6 months?
4 - Validator Program and Community
Who else is validating? Are any of the larger staking companies involved? If so, my sense is they've at least done some preliminary analysis to make validating on this network worthwhile.
Does the project team treat validators as equal participants? Do they remember that there are human beings behind the machines? Do they communicate clearly and consistently, via a limited number of communication channels?
Or, do they expect us to jump when they say jump, with little advance notice. Do they communicate in a haphazard, reactive and inconsistent way? Do they not remember/acknowledge that validators have lives outside their network? Do they appreciate the investment validators, particularly the smaller independent ones, are making to support their network?
How about decentralization? Does the team really value it or simply say they do? Are they supportive of a diverse validator set or favor the validators run by the big funds who are early investors in their project?
5 - Incentivization
Are the test nets incentivized? Iris has pioneered this approach that rewards validators for participation. While few and far between now, my hope is this becomes more commonplace. I can see this criteria become more important if/as it does.
P.S. - If you're building a network that meets these criteria and you'd like me to operate a Chainflow Validator on it, fantastic! Please contact me to start the discussion.
P.P.S - If you're a token holder and would like to delegate to me, you can learn how to do that here.