Setting up a full-time mining rig is a tremendous resource commitment - and you either have to be all-in or go home if you want to ever actually see any return (yeah, I know - I'm ignoring syndicate/collective mining).

On the other hand, running a full node that doesn't mine is really not that expensive a thing to do - and provides all of the transaction validation, consensus voting, and block propagation that a mining node does.

For developers (and perhaps for users who just, well, use Ethereum a lot) there is a direct benefit to running such a node, but I wonder if there could be some way to provide incentive for other people to run these sorts of nodes. When I think about it I'm not seeing anything obvious and/or elegant.

I guess a corollary is whether or not it would even be a good idea. Seems to me the more nodes the better, though.


Currently there is indeed no monetary incentive to run a full node. It's done by enthusiasts that just do it for the fun of it, or by projects who are building on top of Ethereum and need access to network data (also wallets run it at the moment because light clients aren't done yet, they will certainly switch away s soon as they can).

The inherent problem with light nodes is that they leach the network: why run a full node when you can get away with a light node? To address this we're considering a model where light nodes actually pay for data they request from full nodes. If we can work out a meaningful model for this, then this would be the incentive for people to run full nodes: they can serve light nodes, and be compensated for it.

Also we're working on Swarm, which would allow anyone to rent out their disk capacity for others to use as a distributed file system, which could also net full nodes some extra income for their efforts.

  • That's a really important point about the light wallets "leaching". I like the idea of running nodes that charge light wallets for access - it's way more direct and clean than anything I was thinking of. – jimkberry Mar 9 '16 at 15:14

DASH has a nice way of giving incentives in my opinion. As soon as you run a Full Node with 1000DASH on it, it is considered a master-node and is getting paid for its services. This has two benefits:

  1. Masternodes have a way higher trustworthness than Bitcoin full nodes since their motivation to keep the currency value increasing or at least stable is quite high as stakeholder.
  2. The incentive System is a nice trigger to control the amount of Master Nodes. If there might be too many Masternodes (probably this never happens, but still it's possible), the incentives for running one can be lowered. But way more important is the feature that you can dynamically increase the amount of full nodes by giving out a higher incentive.

I personally dream of owning a smart full node, which is dynamically switching between blockchains based on the given rewards. In that way I'm always automatically contributing to the blockchain where the calculation power is needed most.

  • 3
    At the time of writing this, Dash is about $215 USD. So, the 1000Dash you would need to start a masternode would cost you around $215,000 USD. Although nice in theory, I personally ain't got that kind money. – captDaylight Jul 6 '17 at 16:10

Peter's solution sounds preferable, but another option (assuming it's possible to prove that a tx was sent from an account running a full node), is that the network could incentivize full nodes by subsidizing gas up to a fixed limit for transactions sent from them.


Further to an incentive for running a Master Node, there should be a check and balance in place or fee system for Master Nodes attempting to hold sway over any given cryptocurrency or network. If a Master Node were to switch Blockchains more than one or two times during any given year there might be a fee involved for doing so each time once over the limit which might increase incrementally to discourage this action. Yes, this might reduce the Master Nodes ability to capitalize on volatile markets and potential increased revenues, however, it might help to appropriately stabilize the network. Thoughts anyone?

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