**Allow two validators to combine staking pools to encourage the growth of validator ecosystem **
It has become clear that there is an increasingly difficult hill to climb in order to achieve elected status for new validators with higher effective median stake (EMS), higher value per $one, lower minimum staking requirements, and growing popularity of Harmony (meaning more new validators competing for delegations). In order to provide a more accessible path towards 1000 validators and decentralization, I propose a change to allow two validators to combine staking pools. This new feature could be used by struggling validators to earn rewards for their delegators while trying to secure safe election status. I see two common ways this feature could be used. 1) Existing, stable validators could mentor a new validator. The new validator would have their delegations pooled with the established validator. 2) Two validators under EMS could combine pools until they achieve enough delegations to be consistently elected.
The intended effect of this proposal is to grow the Validator pool according to the wishes of the Harmony founders. To make this work, I propose an ‘edit validator’ command that allows one to add the wallet address of a 2nd validator. The staking pools would be combined once the 2nd validator adds the other’s address as well. If at anytime either validator removes the other’s address, the pools would automatically become separate again. The validator with the most delegations would be the one to maintain control of the existing BLS keys. The other validator would then have to generate new BLS keys for themself.
The requirements of making this work: both validators would have to charge the same fee % and be operating on the same shard. No more than 2 validators can join together. When both validators have individual total delegations greater than or equal to the most recent EMSx1.1, the partnership is automatically split (with a 1 epoch grace period to account for changes that need to be made by the validators). The point of this is not to create massive delegation pools, but rather to support validators in need until they can stand on their own two feet. One of the greatest hurdles of a new validator is convincing investors to delegate without the expectation of short term returns. With all of the yield farming options, large number of existing elected validators, and higher EMS the road to election is becoming increasingly difficult and costly. Keeping the status quo will not allow for the vision of 1000 validators. Under this proposal, delegators could stake with a struggling validator without worrying about not receiving rewards.
We could possibly use this setup to begin a formal mentorship program in association with the validator DAO where candidates for mentorship are chosen and assisted in their journey towards becoming an independent validator. Also, there is the opportunity for an agreement among independent validators where the well established validators could separately charge a fee to aspiring validators in order to allow the new one to sort of piggy back off of their established staking pool. If one member isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, the other can remove their wallet address at any moment to break the partnership.
I realize there might be aspects or consequences I’m not considering. I welcome your input. Also, if developers are seeing this and don’t think certain aspects are possible from a programming perspective or have suggestions on how to make this work, please share your thoughts.
Do you support the creation of a validator pooling feature to help struggling validators?
Suggested voting options : yes or no