Balance Snapshot complete. Setting up stake pools for testing

The balance snapshot was taken on November 29 at 12:00 UTC. If you had ada in a mainnet Daedalus or Yoroi wallet at the time, you will soon be able to delegate your stake to earn real ada rewards on the Incentivized Testnet. First, there will be a brief interim period to allow stake pool operators to set up before the Incentivized Testnet wallets are released and delegation begins. To learn how to operate a stake pool on the Incentivized Testnet, please visit our testnet website.

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Incentivized Testnet

Run a Stake Pool

With the incentivized phase of the testnet program, operate a stake pool to earn real rewards, help us learn, and become part of the Cardano journey.
What is a Stake Pool?

A stake pool is a network node with a public address for users to delegate to. Stake pools are run by a reliable operator: an individual or business with the knowledge and resources to run the node on a consistent basis. Ada holders can then delegate to stake pools if they wish to participate in the protocol and receive rewards, but do not wish to operate a network node themselves.

The more stake delegated to a stake pool, the greater chance it has of being selected as a slot leader. Each time it is selected, it is rewarded, and these rewards are shared between the stake pool operator and stake pool delegates.

How do I set up a stake pool?

To learn how to set up a stake pool, read our stake pool operator guide or visit the testnet developer website. Anybody can learn how to operate a stake pool, but a degree of technical familiarity and knowledge is required.

It’s important to remember the role of a stake pool operator: to ensure reliable, 24/7 operation of a network node. This requires strong and stable network infrastructure and, ideally, system operation and server administration skills along with experience in development and operations.

Interested in developing on the Cardano platform or running a stake pool?
Visit the testnet developer website to find out how


We’re working on a rewards calculator right now, which will help you calculate approximate returns for operating a stake pool. The calculator will produce an estimate, not a definitive amount. Over the course of the Incentivized Testnet program, we will likely test different parameters that may affect reward margins. Amounts calculated are therefore subject to change.

As a stake pool operator, you will typically have:

  • Operational knowledge of how to run and maintain a Cardano node on a 24/7 basis
  • System operation skills
  • Experience of development and operations (DevOps)
  • Server administration skills (operational and maintenance)

We support Linux, Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), Mac, and Windows platforms. The following versions are required:

  • Linux (2.6.18 or later)
  • BSD (NetBSD 8.x and FreeBSD 12.x)
  • OSX (10.7 Lion or later)
  • Windows 10

Stake pools will be ranked by performance, so it is important that your stake pool is online and active when elected to create blocks. Stake pool operators can also pledge – through delegation – their personal stake to their own pool. By providing a pledge address when they register the pool, users will be able to see which pools have been pledged to by their operator. Additionally, stake pool operators can inform users about:

  • Security: details of how a stake pool has been secured against hackers
  • Team: information on the operator’s team and experience in managing stake pools
  • Communication and social media: regular updates and support for delegators
  • Website: stake pool information and marketing

In the Incentivized Testnet, there will be a concept of pledging, whereby stake pool operators delegate their personal stake to their pool and register a pledge address when they register the stake pool. By creating an upfront cost for running a stake pool, pledging reduces the likelihood of Sybil attacks and increases the financial attractiveness of a pool. Pledging follows the same process as delegation.

Stake pool operators will need to be available as much as possible to respond to any network or performance alerts. It is important that pools ensure their node is running the latest software. This will be important both for both testnet and mainnet operations.

In the Incentivized Testnet, stake pools will be ranked based on their performance. This is a calculation based on the number of blocks the pool was tasked to create compared with the number of blocks it actually created. This is recorded over time. Over the duration of the testnet and for the mainnet, more ways of ranking stake pools will be added. We also recommend that ada holders also do their own independent research when choosing where to delegate their stake.

As always, we recommend that stake pool operators update their software whenever a new version is released. This ensures that the performance of your stake pool and therefore your rewards are unaffected.

The Cardano entities will not be controlling stake pool activity because this is counter to the decentralized ethos of the project. However, the Cardano Foundation will moderate the ‘readable data’ of stake pools (including stake pool name, ticker ID, URL, and description) as they register to ensure they follow the community’s code of conduct.

IOHK and EMURGO will be running stake pools to contribute to the testing process and support the network as it develops in the early stages. The Cardano Foundation is not currently planning on running a stake pool.

Updates and releases for the testnet will follow proper release schedules. We recommend operators follow our social media accounts for the latest updates.

Rewards for delegation can be earned if you delegate to a stake pool that is sharing rewards. The amount you earn cannot be guaranteed and will ultimately depend on the stake pool, the amount of rewards they are prepared to share, and their performance. Throughout the Incentivized Testnet, we may also test new parameters that could affect rewards. These new parameters will be included in the calculator, so it will always be possible to calculate approximate rewards. It is also worth noting that rewards will only begin to be granted from the end of the epoch in which the associated stake was delegated.