Validators Drop Off Ethereum 2.0 Testnets as Mainnet Release Looms

Participation on both the Zinken and Medalla testnets has fallen as developers prepare for the deposit contract’s release.

Oct 20, 2020 at 1:42 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:11 a.m. UTC

If testnet participation is any indication, Ethereum 2.0 validators are itching for the real thing as the network kickoff looms.

Only 36% of the necessary 66% participants needed to secure the Medalla testnet have stuck around, according to beaconcha.in

That’s echoed by the more recent Zinken testnet, which has just under the 66% needed to function properly as of Monday, according to beaconcha.in. Those testnets – meant to practice the launch of Eth 2.0’s Phase 0 this fall – launched in September and October, respectively.

“Medalla has entered a finality issue again due to user confusion around which testnet they should run. Unfortunately, many users had abandoned Medalla for Zinken,” Prysmatic Labs team lead Preston Van Loon told CoinDesk in a message.

Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchains are similar to political elections: Depositors of coin holdings act as politicians and every transaction must be voted on in what is called validation. Moreover, enough politicians need to show up for the vote to count in what is termed “finality.” Neither Medalla or Zinken currently have enough votes to do so.

The low testnet participation rates are mirrored by rhetoric from Eth 2.0 developers who say they are ready for Eth 2.0’s Phase 0 to begin. For example, ConsenSys Eth 2.0 developer Ben Edgington called on developers to release the deposit contract in a CoinDesk Op-Ed last week.

In a blog, Edgington further said he is “expecting news about the deposit contract any day now” and that client teams were basically “good to go.”

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