Interesting discussion, I would like to offer an alternative point of view as well as my own insights.
The number of nodes going down a little bit doesn’t concern me much really. I am a small miner and only run one node, this means I will have a greater chance at rewards.
Since we can’t for sure say which nodes left the network, it seems strange to assume which ones left.
Could it have been small miners such as me because they weren’t getting much rewards? Possibly.
But I don’t think the small miners have an expectation of getting rich, they just contribute to the network because they are interested in the project.
I have seen people claim to operate thousands of nodes, this has a heavy cost per day and if the ROI isn’t high enough, it would make sense they would shut their nodes down.
My suspicion is that is where the majority of the nodes went, people invested in high cost cloud nodes, which is centralized to a certain degree, and it didn’t pan out for what they were expecting.
I got involved in the project because I read a news story and thought the project looked interesting. High visibility press attracts various people with different intentions.
It seems this press also attracted nefarious actors as well. Thus in an effort to mitigate, the development team had to do something and adding a small barrier to entry makes a lot of sense.
First, it lowers new nodes, since you can’t just add them at a whim, there is a small cost involved with node creation. That is probably the best up front way to keep those who mean the network harm away.
Secondly, since the node pool isn’t growing with a lot of new nodes and wallets, it becomes easier to isolate and identify the problems.
I estimate once these issues are resolved, the node generation fee will be changed in some way if not removed entirely.
The security of the network is important to me as a node operator who wants to see the network grow and succeed in the future. We are still in the beginning here and the last thing the developers want to do is harm the community.
Think about it from their point of view.
What would you do if you were in a position to make changes?