This GIP proposes a mechanism through which indexers can bail out of executing a query in a way that avoids slashing risk and allows clients such as gateways to detect and handle indexer-specific issues gracefully.


Right now, indexers are expected to respond to any query sent their way with a response that includes the query result and an attestation. The attestation provides a way to cross-check the result with that of other indexers and create on-chain disputes if there is a mismatch and the indexer is assumed to have served bad data.

However, there is currently no way for the indexer to express that something is wrong on their end and that they would like to bail out of executing the query and providing an attestation for it, which would put them at a slashing risk. Possible situations where this applies are if the indexer encounters a database corruption during query execution or if the indexer is under high load and can't handle the incoming query.

Framed more generally, any result that an indexer believes may be incorrect or non-deterministic poses a slashing risk unless there is a way for the indexer to signal that it cannot provide an attestation for the result.

As a side note, it is worth distinguishing between three types of indexer query errors:

Non-Deterministic: An error that will not occur for all indexers. This type of error is one example of a non-attestable error/result.

Deterministic: An error that will occur for all indexers.

Attestable: An error that is deterministic and standardized (in terms of the conditions under which it happens and the error message in the response).

High Level Description

This GIP proposes that indexers can bail out of executing a query and providing an attestation for it by simply not returning an attestation. This allows clients to distinguish between attested (good) and unattested (indexer bailed out) results. Upon encountering unattested results, clients can then try additional indexers in the hopes of finding one that is able to provide a result with an attestation.

Several components need to work together to implement this distinction:

  • graph-node needs to be able to flag unattestable results to indexer-service,

  • indexer-service needs to detect such results and return them without providing an attestation; it must also drop the query fee receipt received with the query,

  • clients such as gateways need to detect unattested responses and take measures to guarantee the best possible quality of services to dApps, e.g. by trying additional indexers and updating indexer reliability metrics accordingly.

The detailed specification below describes how this is achieved.

Note that for subgraphs with experimental features like fulltext search, indexers are expected to return no attestation either to prevent slashing. This expectation conflicts with the above proposal, so as part of this GIP, the author proposes to return attestations after all, even for subgraphs with experimental features, and exclude these subgraphs from disputes/slashing.

Detailed Specification

The following changes are proposed to graph-node and indexer-service:

  1. A new Graph-Attestable HTTP header is introduced in graph-node. By default, it is set to false. Anything that that could make query results non-attestable while executing the query should set the Graph-Attestable header to false. Typically, this will be unexpected errors (e.g. database errors) but it can also be other non-deterministic queries such as queries against the latest block of a network, which may or may not be removed again from the chain later.

    The implementation could collect all problems/errors from executing a query and at the end compute whether the result is attestable by returning Graph-Attestable if any of them are non-attestable.

  2. When indexer-service receives a query result from graph-node, it checks for the Graph-Attestable header. It defaults to false if the header is not present (note: this requires indexers to update both graph-node and indexer-service together when rolling out this feature).

    1. If the header is true, indexer-service does what it currently does: it remembers the query fee receipt received with the query and returns the query result along with an attestation:

        "graphQLResponse": "...",
        "attestation": "..."
    2. If the header is false, indexer-service drops the receipt received along with the query and returns the response without an attestation:

        "graphQLResponse": "..."

Backwards Compatibility

This is a breaking change in that clients like gateways may currently rely on the indexer response to include an attestation field. However, the gateway deployed at https://gateway.thegraph.com does not. And at the time of writing this gateway is the way of querying the network. As long as the gateway is updated prior to releasing this feature to indexers, things should be fine.


This GIP has no dependencies.

Risks and Security Considerations

One risk is that indexers end up bailing out a lot. This is a problem that clients can and should deal with by preferring indexers that bail out less frequently.

A risk of making Graph-Attestable a boolean flag is that we might want to differentiate between different reasons for why a result is not attestable in the future. This could be added via separate headers like e.g. a Graph-Unattestable-Reason or similar.


The changes to graph-node should come with graph-node integration tests that verify that the Graph-Attestable header is set to true in all situations where the query results are attestable. Since the default is false, we don't need to test all possibly non-deterministic cases.

The changes in indexer-selection and clients such as gateways may best be verified in a local network or on testnet.

Rationale and Alternatives

The author sees no alternative to this feature in general. There needs to be a way to distinguish between attestable or deterministic query errors (such as a query/schema mismatch) and non-attestable query errors (due to indexer-internal issues that lead to non-determinism).

There are, however, alternative ways to implementing the solution. Instead of a Graph-Attestable header field in graph-node and omiting attestation fields in responses returned by indexer-service, specific HTTP status codes could be used. The author was unable to find suitable codes and finds header fields to be more expressive.

Copyright and related rights waived via CC0.

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