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This question already has an answer here:

I set up a private Ethereum network at home using two computers to test smart contracts and I got them to find each other by getting the enode from one and using admin.addPeer in the console of the other.

Do Ethereum nodes somehow broadcast their availability? In the case of the private home network, will the nodes eventually find each other (assuming they are using the same network ID number) without manually inputting the enode address? Or do nodes need to always start with at least one peer, then only discover new ones through "word of mouth"?

marked as duplicate by Richard Horrocks, Ismael, Achala Dissanayake, Roman Frolov, flygoing Jan 29 '18 at 14:17

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Correct. Ethereum node discovery works by nodes gossiping enode addresses between each other, so you have to connect to at least one node manually. The mainnet/testnets get around this inconvenience by having bootstrap nodes hardcoded into clients that lets nodes connect and discover more nodes quickly.

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