Analyzing Basic Data in Thunderhub
If you are planning on running a routing node, your goal in the first few months should be to optimize the affinity of your channels. The goal is to be able to find areas of the network that are not connected, or to put simply, build roads where there are none to places that people want to go. This is important for a routing node, but also important for a merchant node. A node with lots of activity is a node that has a much higher chance of successful payments both outbound and inbound than a node with little activity.
After you open some channels, have some inbound liquidity, and start seeing funds flow around your channels, it's likely time to start looking at your node in a closer way. Thankfully, Thunderhub gives us some really cool visualization tools to see what is happening. At this point, go ahead and click "Forwards" on the main menu on the left side.
A forward is an event in which your node forwards someone else's payment to the wider network. During a forward, you collect a fee based on your configuration. Your fee base and rate can always be changed and strategically optimized for greater income if that is a goal you have.
Let's take a look at some data in the Forwards screen:
This is what we see at the top. In the upper right you can pick a time frame, from single day to whole year. The graph in this example shows how many forwards were accomplished each day over the last month, as reflected by the "Count" option. If you toggle to Tokens it will show the total amount of sats you have forwarded for others. If you toggle to Fees it will show how much in fees you earned. The total is in the bottom right. In this screenshot, over the past month, this node has accomplished forwards for others 144 times. The other toggle in the upper right, the one that goes from horizontal looking lines to vertical ones will list out each individual forward and let you know what happened and when.
This is telling us that our node forwarded a 48,002 payment which came in on our channel with "BCash is Trash" and out of our channel with "Luna." In this case we collected a 2 sat fee for forwarding this payment. If you click this block it will give you a bit more data including the exact date and time the forward occurred, should you need that information.
You can use the same Count/Tokens/Fees toggles in the upper right to see which channels are interacting with each other often. In this example, Moon node and Luna node had 17 forwards. This is good information! It is showing us that funds are flowing in a certain direction and we may need to find a way to move funds the other direction in the future to allow for natural balancing.
The next screen gives you a more visual representation of what direction funds typically flow through your channels. A good (but not always) rule of thumb is to increase fees on channels with higher outgoing routes and decrease fees on channels that have low outgoing routes. After a channel gets depleted from forwarding, you can circular rebalance back into that channel to continue collecting fees.
The last graphic, known as a chord graph shows you channels on the edges and then stretches into other parts of the graph to show which of your channels interact the most. This graph can be interpreted as a way to see how well connected your channels are. The more of a web a channel makes, the greater the connection: