The Ethereum ecosystem has seen only 226 validators slashed since the launch of the Beacon Chain on Dec. 1, 2020 — amounting to just 0.04% of 524,060 validators, according to an Ethereum core developer.
Slashing is a process where a validator breaches the proof-of-stake consensus rules, which often results in the removal of that validator from the network and slashing a portion of the staked Ether (ETH) that the validator provided as collateral.
Such slim odds of being slashed were highlighted by Ethereum core developer “Superphiz” in a Feb. 23 Twitter post, which suggests that people shouldn’t be concerned about staking ETH for that particular reason.
226 out of 523,000 validators on the beacon chain have been slashed. This is nothing to lose sleep over. Many slashings have occurred during failed system migration. Here are four emerging best practice tips to avoid this:https://t.co/wleR4YQmDD
— superphiz.eth (@superphiz) February 22, 2023
The developer also explained “four emerging best practices” to reduce those odds even further.
One of these practices was to wipe any existing chain data on old staking machines and to reinstall and reformat the validator where necessary, said Superphiz, noting that many slashings occur due to “failed systems migrations.”
Superphiz then suggested using “doppelganger detection,” which checks whether the validator’s keys are active before starting the validation process.
While this can impact validator uptime, he explained that “perfect uptime” isn’t worth getting slashed in the grand scheme of things:
“It’s wise to throw away $0.06 to save $1700. (A slashing costs about 1 Ether).”
The developer said it is also worth watching buffers and logs on the Beacon Chain to become aware of any potential problems that may arise.
If something feels wrong, Superphiz suggested “unplugging everything” and to “come back” when the problem has been identified and a proposed solution is set in place.
The developer also noted that over 150 of the 226 slashings have been caused by services rather than “home stakers.”
Slashing can occur due to an “attestation” or a “proposal” violation, according to the Ethereum Foundation.
An attestation violation is one where a malicious validator attempts to change the history of a block or “double votes” by attesting two candidates for the same block.
A proposal violation occurs when a validator proposes and signs two different blocks for the same slot.
The majority of slashing events have come from attestation violations, according to data from beaconcha.in.
One of the largest slashing events occurred on Feb. 4, 2021, when staking infrastructure provider “Staked” had 75 of its validators slashed for producing competing blocks. Staked said the attestation violation came about due to a “technical issue.”
Since the Beacon Chain merged with the Ethereum proof-of-work chain on Sept. 15, only 35 of the total 226 slashings have taken place, according to beaconcha.in, which suggests that the Merge has not had a profound impact on slashing rates.
With about 16.7 million ETH staked (according to beaconcha.in) out of 120.4 million ETH currently in circulation (according to CoinGecko), the percentage of ETH staked is about 13.9%.
ETH can be staked via a centralized exchange, by delegation to a third-party validator network, or by running on an independent node, which requires 32 ETH.