I first started investigating Bitcoin in 2013, when the era of “use your graphics card to generate free coins” had already come to an end, and ASICs had already come to dominate the mining landscape.
I was always more interested in the societal and economic implications of the network than in the prospect of generating and selling coins for profit, and I have no particular competitive edge when it comes to chip fabrication, so I’ve always opted out of the mining arms-race. As such, I never saw any compelling reason to run my own Full Node (at least not continuously). Plenty of reddit posts made mighty efforts to change my mind on this front, but I am not one to overly worry about the health of the network, and besides, if Bitcoin really needs me to altruistically run a node in order to work, it’s not worth helping.
So I’ve abstained from running a Full Node. Until recently.
What changed my mind? Basically, technical curiosity. My primary motivation is not security benefits (nor any other peace of mind), and it is not so that I can “cast a vote” in the Classic/Core debate. Instead, I’m running a node so that I can tinker.
I want to tweak my relay policies. I want to experiment with validating Segregated Witness transactions (even if only on the testnet for now). I want to have the option of running 0.12 but disabling opt-in RBF, just because I can. And now I can!
So, I spun up a server (and I won’t divulge where). I installed Bitcoin (Core, for now). I downloaded and verified the blockchain, and now I’m doing my part to give back to the network.
And to be honest, it does feel good. Like I’m pulling my own weight in this thing. Bitcoin is better for having me, because now I both hodl and relay/verify transactions for it. I recommend trying it out (even if only for a month or two). I consider it well worth it.
So, if you were like me, and you’ve opted not to run a Full Node, but you’ve considered the prospect once or twice, allow me this one suggestion: do it.