What are Relays and how do they work?
What are relays?
Relays are like the backend servers for Nostr. They allow Nostr clients to send them messages, and they may (or may not) store those messages and broadcast those messages to all other connected clients.
The world of relays is changing fast so expect many changes here in the future. One thing to note, because Nostr is decentralized and depends on relays to store and retrieve data, if you notice that your Nostr client feels slow, it's most likely due to the relays that you're using. It might be worth adding a few more relays to your client.
Where can I find a list of relays?
The best resource we've found for browsing and assessing the speed of known relays is the nostr.watch site.
What happens if all the relays I use stop working?
If all the relays that you have used in the past go offline, all your posts will be unretrievable. This is one reason that Nostr allows users to connect to many relays – this ensures some degree of backup. That said, if you're really interested in being uncensorable, you can run your own personal relay.
Should I run my own relay?
For most people, no, it's not worth the hassle. That said, if you're technical and want to ensure that your speech is absolutely uncensorable, then you can and should run your own relay. This ensures that you always have a copy of all your Nostr posts and interactions for all time. We're working on a guide to this but in the meantime, here is a guide from Andre Neves.
How can someone find me in a personal or obscure relay?
If you manage to (and your client helps) you can publish a list of the relays you use to multiple other relays that you don't, so others can find that list and start following you were you are.
Finally, clients from others should include relay hints in events that mention or reply to you, the hints should point to where your notes can be found, so that can give clients a clue.
What public relays exist?
The nostr.watch website keeps a very complete list that has a bunch of information about each relay, not only their address.