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What is staking?
This page explain the concept of staking
Staking is the process by which a SOL token holder (such as someone who purchased SOL tokens on an exchange) assigns some or all of their tokens to a particular validator or validators, which helps increase those validators’ voting weight. Assigning your tokens to add to a validator’s stake-weight is known as “delegating” your tokens. Delegating your tokens to a validator does NOT give the validator ownership or control over your tokens. At all times, you still control all your staked tokens that you may have chosen to delegate.
By staking tokens with a validator or validators, the token holder indicates a degree of trust in the validator they chose to delegate to. As validators amass larger amounts of stake delegations from different token holders, this acts as “proof” to the network that the validator’s consensus votes are trustworthy, and their votes are therefore weighted proportionally to the amount of stake the validator has attracted. By weighing the collective votes from all validators against the proportion of stake that has been delegated to them, the network reaches consensus by this Proof of Stake.
In an open and decentralized network like Solana, anyone can run a validator if they choose. A malicious validator or other bad actor could attempt to attack the network or to submit incorrect or fraudulent transactions for their own gain. Because of the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism described above, a single entity acting alone in this fraudulent manner would need to attract some amount of stake before any of their proposed activities would be weighed in the consensus vote.
As more token holders choose to stake their SOL tokens to different validators across the network, and the total amount of stake on the network increases, it becomes increasingly difficult for even a coordinated and well-funded attacker to amass enough stake to single-handedly alter the outcome of a consensus vote for their own benefit.
In short, the more stake that is delegated to many different validators across the network, the more safe and secure the network becomes for all of its users.
Additionally, token holders who choose to stake their tokens and help secure the network in doing so, are eligible to receive staking rewards once they have delegated their tokens to one or more validators. More details on staking rewards are found below.
On many Proof-of-Stake networks, there exists a mechanism known as “slashing”. Slashing is any process by which some portion of stake delegated to a validator is destroyed as a punitive measure for malicious actions undertaken by the validator.
This mechanism incentivizes validators not to undertake such actions, as less stake delegated to a validator means that validator then accrues fewer rewards. Being slashed can also be seen as a reputational risk for retaining current or attracting potential future stake.
Slashing also poses a risk to token holders who could potentially lose some of their tokens if they have delegated to a validator which gets slashed. The presence of slashing could incentivize token holders to only delegate their tokens to validators they feel are reputable, and not to delegate all their tokens to a single or small number of validators.
Anyone who holds SOL can stake their tokens at any time.