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Explainer
Open
Participation
TL;DR

Stellar is decentralized. The network software is run by all kinds of people, working on all kinds of projects. Their independent servers, which we call nodes, are what validate Stellar transactions and confirm balances and trades.

Stellar is a financial system that isn’t controlled by a single authority. That means no one can shut it down. It also means it belongs to everyone who participates.

Stellar is open-source, easy to build on, and developer-friendly. It has powerful and well-documented SDKs, so it’s simple to get started. Stellar’s resources for developers are maintained by a non-profit.

Stellar is also open participation: anyone can add a node to the network, submit transactions, and participate in validating them, and anyone can directly access all the data the network has to offer. In fact, more participation is good for everyone: every participant makes the network more decentralized and more reliable.

Here are all the nodes on the network, and all the connections between them. As you can see, no center:

Quorumset connections
Incoming (trusted by)
Outgoing (trusts)

Data provided by Stellarbeat.

Here’s what this open architecture allows you to do:

A node is simply a computer connected to the Stellar network. You can set one up to watch transactions, or you can set one up to participate in the Stellar Consensus Protocol and ratify them. Anyone can run a node: you just download and configure stellar-core, which you can find out how to do here.

Unlike, say, Bitcoin, where proof-of-work led to an arms race that left the network beholden to well-funded cabals using specialized hardware, Stellar is deliberately designed so that you can run a node on a relatively modest computer.

A node gives you a trusted entry point to the network. You can use it to submit transactions directly, without a third party. That way you can be sure things are done right, and so can your customers.

You can also choose which nodes (run by which organizations) you want to validate your transactions. When you run a node, you control who to trust on Stellar, and you can decide based on your own philosophy or business interests or twisted worldview.

A node lets you monitor the network in real time and allows you to archive any or all of the transactions that happen on Stellar. You can keep track of specific payments, accounts, or assets over time, so you can query your database for vital information whenever you need.

If you’re building an app or offering a service, you can customize APIs to interact with your node. You can create official endpoints for you customers to query your data or to give them control over transactions.

You can build all kinds of integrations using Stellar as the backend, and running a node lets you seamlessly connect them to the network.