Written interviews with Stake Pool Operators (SPOs) on the Cardano blockchain.
Link to post on my Medium
This week’s Cardano SPO is a stake pool operated by Sean from West Yorkshire, England who runs a website development company and intends to migrate his time to developing Cardano: Reet Good [REETG].
The previous guest was a stake pool operated by Vivid who is working for the NFT project Danketsu and is helping with various tasks, including the stake pool.
This initiative is a point of reference for everything Cardano and every week or two we will invite a Stake Pool Operator (SPO) to answer some questions and give us an update directly from within the Cardano community.
Hi Sean, glad to have you here. Tell us something about yourself, where are you based and what is your background?
Thank you for this opportunity!
Well, I’m based in West Yorkshire, England.
Leeds is right on my doorstep and it’s a great city, it has everything you could want. Not far away I also have the stunning Yorkshire Dales, the countryside is gorgeous, and I regularly like just driving out and taking a nice long hike. I love the area so much that I donate 10% of my pool’s fixed fee each month to a charity that helps maintain it.
As for me, for the last 10 years I have been growing my website development company. That is still my main job, but as REETG grows I would like to start migrating my time to developing on Cardano more and more. Before I set up my company, I held various other IT related positions such as being a network manager for a local council and an IT support technician for a large and well-known company in their UK call centre.
I’m someone who really likes to put the work in and see something grow over time, that’s why I was excited to set up a pool, it’s really rewarding to see your hard work pay off and be immortalised on the chain.
What’s the path that led you to Cardano and to become a Stake Pool Operator (SPO)?
Well like many people I guess my journey first started with looking into Bitcoin.
I was very late to the party though; I had heard about Bitcoin but dismissed it as some fad. All the news I was hearing just focused on how it was being used as payment for ransomware or on sites like silk road, none spoke about the technology behind it and the reason it was created.
After a while I realised that Bitcoin wasn’t going anywhere and started to look at how it worked and what it offered, suffice to say I felt silly not looking into it properly sooner. From there I naturally started researching other coins and blockchains.
It was my brother who first mentioned Cardano to me, this was about 3 years ago now. After looking into the technology, I realised this was something special. The peer reviewed approach really spoke to me — even though I don’t understand a lot of the science! So, I converted all the sh*tcoins I had (come on we all started there lol) into ADA.
Over time I decided that running a pool was something I wanted to do. I had the technical skills and the drive to do it so took the plunge. That’s what I really like about Cardano, that almost anyone can set up a pool and contribute to the security and growth of the network, there is no high barrier to entry. Sure, getting delegation can be difficult, but that’s a different issue.
REETG has been running for just over a year now, and although it can be quite stressful I’m so glad that I started the pool and can contribute to what I believe will be the most important blockchain of the future.
Governance is coming to Cardano, as can be seen by the recent SPO poll. What have been your thoughts about it? What are the advantages of blockchain voting?
Well, it’s certainly been interesting to watch and participate in!
With this being the first poll of its kind there’s a lot to consider and think about.
Firstly, I would like to say that the way the poll was set up and how the voting worked was easy, even in this first form. Down the line there will be apps and other things to make this even easier and that’s critical to getting people to vote and engage with the questions asked.
The question asked regarding the minPoolFee and K parameter raised a lot of discussion on MPOs (multi pool operators) and the ethics of running multiple pools.
Is it right for some people to run multiple pools? Does it ‘fit’ with the premise of decentralisation? Do people care if someone runs multiple pools? There’s a wider discussion to be had there which I can’t go into here, but if you’re reading this, please stake with a single pool operator if you’re not already.
I think the advantages of blockchain voting are clear. Transparent, verified voting that is accessible to all. The tools made to analyse the results of this first poll have shown that it works and there will no doubt be improvements made over time. The uses for this kind of voting are endless, let’s just hope that it’s adopted outside of the crypto community. Trust in a voting system is paramount, and there are people out there that really need to have their voices heard, blockchain voting can solve this.
For the less tech-savvy, what does it mean to be a bare-metal stake pool? And what does a day in the life of an SPO look like?
As you mentioned REETG is a bare metal pool, that means that REETG runs on its own physical hardware that is not shared with anyone else. This is the most secure way to run a pool.
Saying that, the block producer is supported by two cloud relays which are run using Amazon Web Services. I decided to use cloud relays simply for the ease of being able to set up relays in multiple geographic locations, this helps with fast block propagation times for the network.
The block producer also has daily cloud backups, so if anything was to happen to our hardware, we could quickly set up a new machine with the necessary files and configuration, ensuring minimal downtime.
Both relays and the block producer are monitored 24/7 and I can easily check the status of them all via a weblink, even when out and about. Automatic alerts are also sent to me via Telegram and Discord if an issue does arise so that it can be quickly dealt with.
Besides the monitoring of the actual hardware and software there are other tasks involved in running the pool, such as updating system software, updating the Cardano node software when needed and rotating the pool KES keys. The KES keys expire after 90 days, and if this happens your pool can no longer produce blocks, so it’s important you don’t forget!
Besides the actual monitoring of the pool the rest of my day is split between my other job and engaging with the Cardano community. The hardest part of running a pool that rarely gets mentioned is the struggle in attracting delegators.
Delegation is obviously important to a pool; so, I spend most of my time advertising the pool and engaging online to try and get noticed
While I’m speaking about delegation — shout out to my REETG delegators! You’re awesome!
Awesome. Thank you kindly for your time? Where can people get in touch?
It’s been a pleasure, thank you for giving me the opportunity.
People can contact me in the following ways:
I’d also like to take this opportunity to promote a tool I have been working on to help delegators find single pool operators, the address is here.
It is currently under active development, and I would welcome any feedback!
Thank you again
Disclaimer: The opinions and views of the SPOs are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Cardano Foundation or IOG.