What is Gossip Protocol?

By Julia Cook
Published Jun 28, 2022 and Updated Mar 21st, 2023

A gossip protocol is a protocol that is designed to ensure that data is disseminated rapidly across all computing devices in a distributed network on the basis of peer-to-peer (P2P) communication.

Gossip protocols are designed to disperse data as quickly and energy-efficiently a possible across a distributed network in a way that does not bog down the system with extensive processing requirements. It does this by spreading the information in a P2P format instead of one device distributing it to all others. Each will continue to distribute the data to the next node in the network until the data has been distributed across the entire network.

This system is useful in a company or industry setting where all copies of the entity’s databases need to be kept up to date. It is often implemented on cloud-based systems.

Blockchain Gossip Protocols

A blockchain gossip protocol is called such because it is based on the notion of rapid P2P communication that occurs through social networks. In the blockchain, the nodes would replace people in the ‘gossip’ sequence and are usually implemented on private blockchains. In order to ensure that the data is evenly distributed, each node will relate the data to a randomly selected node.

An important element of this protocol is also its ability to distribute data to every node without any node being conveyed the same data twice. Otherwise, this would cause dissimilarities between the copies of the blockchain. Similarly, another concern with this type of protocol is that if segments of the network go offline, this would lead to those nodes not being updated with the rest of the network. This is what is known as ‘partitioning.’

There are many different types of blockchain gossip protocols, implemented in different ways. For instance, although Ethereum’s main consensus protocols are the Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS), part of the consensus layer also includes utilizing transaction gossip protocol so as to speed up the transaction time on the network.