Getting Started

What is Polkadot?

Polkadot is the first fully-sharded blockchain.

Polkadot enables scalability by allowing specialized blockchains to communicate with each other in a secure, trust-free environment.

Polkadot is built to connect and secure unique blockchains, whether they be public, permissionless networks, private consortium chains, or other Web3 technologies. It enables an internet where independent blockchains can exchange information under common security guarantees.

Polkadot is a living network with the core pillars of governance and upgradability. The network has an advanced suite of governance tools and, using the WebAssembly standard as a "meta-protocol", can autonomously deploy network upgrades. Polkadot adapts to your growing needs without the risks of network forks.


If you haven't heard of Governance before, a great place to start is the Governance page

By connecting these dots, Polkadot serves as a foundational layer of a decentralized web, where users control their data and are not limited by trust bounds within the network.

Interact with Polkadot

What can I do with my DOT?

DOT is the native token of the Polkadot Network. DOT can be used for transaction fees, staking, governance, acquisition of a parachain slot and for enabling several key functionalities on Polkadot.

  • 1 DOT: the minimum balance required to have an active account on Polkadot Network. If your account balance drops below 1 DOT, your account will be reaped. Learn more about Accounts and the Existential Deposit requirement.

  • 5 DOT: the minimum contribution required to participate in crowdloans for parachain slot auctions.

  • 10 DOT: the minimum stake required to submit your intent to nominate validators. But, to earn staking rewards, your stake should not be less than the minimum stake among the active nominators which is a dynamic threshold. Learn more about becoming a nominator.

  • 20 DOT: you can register an on-chain identity or vote for council.

DOT has utility in Polkadot's democracy. Bonding DOT is a requirement to create proposals, to endorse them and to vote on them when they become referendums. Bonding 100 DOT or 5% of requested funding is a requirement to make a treasury proposal. DOT can also enable you to participate in programs like the Thousand Validators Program.

Polkadot Gifts

Polkadot Gifts provide an easy way to:

  • Onboard friends or family who are curious about blockchain but haven’t made the leap yet.

  • Share your love of Polkadot and send any amount of DOT.

  • Say ‘thank you’ or send someone tokens when you don’t know their address.

  • Get friends and family set up to participate in crowdloans.

Learn more about how you can create and send Polkadot Gifts here.

Why Polkadot?

Back in the early 2000's, when the internet was gaining popularity for the first time, the internet featured read-only, static, basic web pages. The online connected world at the time was only the beginning of virtual data, identities, and more. The internet during this time was also called the Web 1.0.

As social media platforms and online businesses began to emerge, the internet transformed into the Web 2.0. This upgraded internet, which we still use today, features dynamic, interactive web pages, where users can read and write information plus publish their own for others to see. However, this version of the web comes with downsides, dealing with data control, privacy issues, and the consequences of trust. This is where the WEB3 comes into the picture.

The WEB3 is taking centralized infrastructure and applications and turning them into decentralized, trust-free protocols. The goal is to transform the internet into a decentralized web, where users control their own data and identity in a trust-free environment. The Web3 movement aims to remove intermediaries and build trustless infrastructure.


To learn more of the Web3 movement, check out this video from the Web3 Summit

How does Polkadot Work?

The Polkadot network uses a sharded model where shards - called "parachains", allow transactions to be processed in parallel instead of sequentially. Each parachain in the network has a unique state transition function (STF). Polkadot has a Relay Chain acting as the main chain of the system. Based on Polkadot's design, as long as a chain's logic can compile to Wasm and adheres to the Relay Chain API, then it can connect to the Polkadot network as a parachain.

Parachains construct and propose blocks to validators on the Relay Chain, where the blocks undergo rigorous availability and validity checks before being added to the finalized chain. As the Relay Chain provides the security guarantees, collators - full nodes of these parachains - don't have any security responsibilities, and thus do not require a robust incentive system. This is how the entire network stays up to date with the many transactions that take place.

In order to interact with chains that want to use their own finalization process (e.g. Bitcoin), Polkadot has bridge parachains that offer two-way compatibility, meaning that transactions can be made between different parachains.

The Cross-Consensus Messaging Format (XCM) allows parachains to send messages of any type to each other. The shared security and validation logic of the Relay Chain provide the environment for trust-free message passing that opens up true interoperability.


To watch a short, beginner-friendly animation on Polkadot, check out our Polkadot Explainer video

Why should you use Polkadot?

Whether you're a blockchain developer or if you're interested in taking part of Polkadot's community, Polkadot offers a platform for everyone. This wiki offers a place for builders and maintainers to utilize tools and for brand-new learners to dive into educational material.

Where to start learning?

For brand-new learners of Blockchain technology:

  • The Blockchain Fundamentals MOOC course is a great introduction to start familiarizing yourself with blockchain concepts such as cryptography and networks, and how these play into things like decentralization and cryptocurrency.

This is recommended for users with backgrounds of all levels, and the course is free!

Brand-New Polkadot learners:

  • Polkadot's original white paper is a technical summary around one possible direction of implementing the Polkadot network. This paper uses rationale and technical details to support why this direction is beneficial. This original white paper also explains how Polkadot's core components work together to build this decentralized network.

  • Polkadot's overview paper is an updated version of the white paper that describes the protocol in more technical terms. We would recommend reading this overview paper if you are interested in digging more into the protocol itself.

  • Polkadot's light paper is a visual, easy to read, and less technical introduction into its blockchain technology. This paper dives into the components of Polkadot but is understandable for both a non-technical and technical reader.

  • Polkadot's specification is a GitHub repository that holds the latest Polkadot Host protocol specification, Polkadot's specification tests of the many components of the network, and the Polkadot Runtime specification. This repo holds algorithms and explores how various processes function in the Polkadot network. The Polkadot specification takes Polkadot's ideas and concepts from the light and the white paper but focuses on the technical specs of the technology.

  • Watching the Technical Explainer Videos: These are great introductory videos that explain and demonstrate how to use Polkadot and its User Interface.

  • Reading What is Polkadot? A Brief Introduction on Medium. There are also other great articles to read on Polkadot's Medium or Web3 Foundation's Medium.

For brand-new learners of Kusama, Polkadot's canary cousin network: To learn more about how to build and maintain on the Kusama network, please head over to our Kusama Guide.

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