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⚡️The Lightning Node Operator's Guide to the Lightning Galaxy, Part 2: Node Scoring and Pathfinding ⚡️

by Bryan Vu

In the first post in this series, we discussed some of the requirements for becoming a routing node operator as well as some of the basic mechanics of setting up a routing node. In this post, we’ll first be discussing channel connectivity and how the concept of “node scoring” can help routing nodes identify other “good” peers to open channels to and maintain channels with. The second topic is high-level discussion about “pathfinding” and about how individual payments are routed. This section will further provide suggestions for how a routing node operator can configure their node so as to become more attractive to Lightning routing algorithms.

Finding and attracting “good” peers

A node operator seeking to contribute to the Lightning Network and also seeking to earn fees should keep in mind that the purpose of the routing node network is to serve end users, merchants and service providers. Our expectation is that incentives will evolve such that those routing nodes that provide high-quality, fast and reliable routing will be rewarded with higher transaction forwarding volumes and greater fee revenue over time. One of the primary incentive systems that we’ve begun to implement in lnd is called node scoring, with related systems for making channel requests and deciding whether channel requests should be accepted. Note that the development of automated node scoring is still in the early phases, so at this point, routing node operators will have to perform much of this work manually. By explaining some of the high-level ideas and learning from the experience of the community, we hope to improve our thinking in this area as we further develop these tools.

Routing node scoring and channel selection

As discussed previously, lnd employs a system called “Autopilot,” which allows end-user nodes (such as Lightning App) to select routing peers with which to open channels. With the release of our Lightning App at the be...

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