Testnets and faucets
Testnets work very similarly to the mainnet. This is expected, as its purpose is to simulate a similar environment. The main difference between them is that testnet tokens have no financial value. Since there is no financial motivation to participate in a testnet, its security is considerably lower than the mainnet.
If we can’t buy testnet tokens, how do we get them? They can be obtained by applications known as faucets. These commonly are websites that send a limited amount of tokens to anyone who makes a request. Faucets can also be found on platforms like discord, for example.
Some faucets require the requester to register on a social network or interact with the website in some way, in order to prove they are not a robot. As faucets distribute tokens for free, they often implement mechanisms to prevent abuse by malicious users.
Tokens on test networks have the sole purpose of allowing developers and users to test applications without the need to spend real money. Once a faucet sends tokens to your account, you can transfer them to another account or use them to pay the usage fee of a smart contract, the so-called gas fee. You can even create your own faucet and start distributing your tokens.
Testnets are maintained by the goodwill of their participants, as there is no financial incentive involved. Some participants do this for learning purposes, while others just want to help with community promotion and network safety. Also, testnets represent one of the most essential tools in the blockchain ecosystem.
In addition to the mainnet and the testnets, it is also possible to create local networks. The software that runs blockchain protocols such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Neo, among others, are open source and allow the creation of local networks. The purpose of local networks is to test the environment in a faster and more personalized way.
Local networks work very similarly to test networks, with the difference being that they have only one maintainer: you. It is unsuitable for simulating scenarios but it helps test decentralized applications locally without spending resources on test networks. Since they are local, they are also much faster.
Running a local network is like having your own blockchain. You can invite friends to join the network, making it distributed and decentralized. That’s how most networks started, like similar copies of other major networks. We will talk more about that shortly.
However, a blockchain with few participants is not secure. What makes a network stable and secure is community participation and support. One of the recipes for the success of a network is community engagement. After all, that’s the whole idea of blockchain, a environment.