Are All Eth2 Validators Created Equal?

A look at Eth2 staking validator missed attestations vs. income to see if all validators are created equal and where does yours stack up? We review validators 100,000–104,999 to analyze their missed attestations as a measure of overall health and see if their missed attestations are correlated to their income (spoiler: yes). The data snapshot was taken on 26 June 2021, representing approximately 3 months since these validators were activated, or about 27,000 epochs.

Statue of Justice holding the scales of justice

Validators Go to School

A B C, It’s easy as
1 2 3, as simple as
Do re mi, A B C, 1 2 3
Baby you’re my validator

Apologies to The Jackson 5

Sort the validator results into four cohorts with school “grades” assigned based on missed attestations during the 120 days:

  • A students: < 10 missed attestations
  • B students: 10–99 missed attestations
  • C students: 100–999 missed attestations
  • 1000 or more missed attestations: see your academic advisor soonest

Data Set and Assumptions

Balance and number of missed attestations as of June 26, 2021, for validators index 100,000 to 104,999.

Data for 5 validators with special situations was scrubbed, see below.

Assumed all validators started with a 32.0 ETH deposit, so income is (Balance — 32.0).

Chart plots assume all validators were active for 120 days (the average) with an actual range of 114 to 125 days. During this period the number of validators was growing, which was not considered.

There is significant variance in the results. Reduced income of a few percent based on student grades may not hold over time (but kudos to those “A” students).

Hypothesis

1. Number of missed attestations is a good proxy for the overall health of a validator and should correlate to the income of that validator.

2. Validator results may be based on the client application and hardware configuration. The X-Y scatter chart may show groupings or clumps which reflect this, but there is insufficient information at this time to confirm.

Validator Results

Focusing on the actually missed attestations and income seems to give finer-grain results that looking at attestation inclusion effectiveness (on beaconcha.in) since we will see the variation of results for validators with 100% effectiveness. Here is the report card for our 5,000 validator students over 120 days:

3.8% (189 A+ students) had a perfect score of 0 missed attestations.

43.0% (2,151 A students, includes the A+ students) averaged 4.13 missed attestations, with an average income of 0.825709 ETH.

36.2% (1,811 B students) averaged 38.6 missed attestations, with an average income of 0.81366 ETH, giving up 0.012 ETH income compared to the A student average or 1.5%.

12.7% (635 C students) averaged 203.9 missed attestations, with an average income of 0.80171 ETH, giving up 0.024 ETH income compared to the A student average or 2.9%

8.1% (403 “see your advisor” students) averaged 1,808 missed attestations, with an average income of 0.70718 ETH, giving up 0.1185 ETH income compared to the A student average or 14.5% Some of these struggling validators are also missing proposed blocks, contributing to their reduced income.

Special Situations

The data was scrubbed to remove five special situations and show some compassion if you look at these validator indexes on beaconcha.in

Charts

Let’s chart the data and look for patterns.

This scatter chart shows the full population with a clear correlation between missed attestations and income. Also of interest are the distinct clumps of data points, perhaps showing different clients and hardware configurations.

Next, we zoom in on the blob in the upper left-hand corner above to chart the “A”, “B”, and “C+” validators with less than 300 missed attestations in the 120 days.

Again, we can see distinct clumps of data points even for these good students.

The final zoom into the left-hand side blob shows only the best students with “A” and “B+” grades, for validators with less than 30 missed attestations in the 120 days.

Squinting at this chart there are two clumps of results, the first centered around 5 missed attestations and the second (with slightly lower income) centered around 20 missed attestations. Although there were 189 validators in this data set with zero missed attributions (the extreme left-hand side) they don’t always have a higher income than others in the best-in-class left side clump.

The topmost data point for validator 100015 with 7 missed attestations had an income of 0.87786 since they were lucky enough to get 16 proposed blocks during this period.

Next Steps

Thanks for reading and happy for the community to help explain these clumps. What do they mean? Did I crunch the data right? Please comment below or on r/ethstaker, the home for Ethereum Stakers on Reddit.

Yet another Web3 & Eth2 dreamer. Describing my part of the elephant. May you have effective dreams for the cryptoverse.