Network fees are fees paid to blockchain miners to secure and confirm your transaction. Since Stacks is secured by Bitcoin, these fees are paid to Stacks miners who ensure Stacks block outcomes are included within Bitcoin blocks. With Ordinals, network fees are paid to Bitcoin miners, since Ordinals live directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. As such, network fees are not charged nor collected by Gamma, but rather prompted by the network itself to include your transaction in an anchor block.
Why are there network fees and why do they change?
Fees are an essential incentive mechanism that keep the blockchain running smoothly and securely. Since network fees operate somewhat similarly to a market, there is a going rate for network fees which encourage or discourage transactions based on network congestion.
During periods of especially high network congestion, fees can increase beyond what is typical. In these cases, if your transaction is not time-sensitive, it's best to wait for fees to return to a normal level in order to avoid overpaying for your transaction.
How do you define or change fees?
You can define fees using your connected digital wallet browser extension, which will typically recommend the current estimated network fee required to be included in an anchor block. You can modify this fee up or down, or to a custom number, using the transaction prompt that appears when you perform an on-chain action like minting, listing, unlisting, transferring, or buying an NFT.
Modifying the fees will modify the speed at which your transaction will be confirmed. If you modify the fee too low, you'll be warned that the fee may be too low to be included in an anchor block. While you may still submit the transaction, you should recognize that you may have to increase the fee or wait for the transaction to time out in order for it to complete (in success or failure).