Is running a full node really a necessity? In his latest blog post, “Security, the Blockchain, and Hashed Headers…,” Dr. Craig Wright addresses the fallacy that individuals running their own nodes are playing a role in securing the network.
Dr. Wright explains that the role that a full node plays on a network does nothing in relation to providing security and validity to the network. Something that might lead to this misconception is that individuals probably have an inaccurate understanding of what a node does as it was described in section five of the Bitcoin whitepaper.
“Nodes were defined in section 5 of my white paper,” according to Dr. Wright, citing section 5 of the Bitcoin whitepaper.
- New transactions are broadcast to all nodes.
- Each node collects new transactions into a block.
- Each node works on finding a difficult proof-of-work for its block.
- When a node finds a proof-of-work, it broadcasts the block to all nodes.
- Nodes accept the block only if all transactions in it are valid and not already spent.
- Nodes express their acceptance of the block by working on creating the next block in the chain, using the hash of the accepted block as the previous hash.
To truly be running a node that secures and validates the network, your node must be helping the network reach consensus. To help the network reach consensus, your node is going to have to create new blocks as well as broadcast valid blocks to the network. In other words, to truly be playing a role in providing network security, validity, and consensus, you are going to need to be mining and transaction processing.
To put this matter into perspective, Dr. Wright uses an analogy that draws parallels between running a full node and abstaining in an election.
Some individuals believe that because a full node holds a complete copy of a blockchain network’s history, that they are of value because full node operators can detect if a change has taken place within a blockchain network or not. However, Dr. Wright explains why this idea is flawed.
“Security, the Blockchain, and Hashed Headers…” provides a lot of insight into the “everyone should run a full node” argument that we often hear individuals on other blockchain networks put forward; and it proves why that idea is flawed and why operating a full node does nothing in regard to securing or validating the network.
It also provides a good refresher of what nodes on the network are meant to do as described in the Bitcoin whitepaper and why it could have been anticipated that a few large corporations and mining facilities would be the majority that run nodes as well as create and broadcast blocks.
To learn more about nodes, the role that they play on the Bitcoin network, and why running a full node is not necessary at a consumer level, then you are going to want to read Dr. Craig S. Wright’s latest blog post, “Security, the Blockchain, and Hashed Headers…” on CraigWright.net.