Mainstream web magazine Salon has started allowing its readers an ad-free site, if readers start mining cryptocurrency for them, after sustaining a decline in income due to ad blocking technology.
Salon’s Mining Initiatives
Salon, a left-leaning political and lifestyle webzine started in 1995, has launched a cryptocurrency mining option for its visitors in an effort to recuperate some of its declining income. The site is run by Salon Media Group, a publicly-traded company with offices in San Francisco and New York City.
“Like most media companies, Salon pays its bills through advertising,” the site explained, adding that the increase in visitors using ad blockers has “cut deeply into our revenue.” Acknowledging technological developments, Salon wrote “your computer itself can help support our ability to pay our editors and journalists,” noting:
For our beta program, we’ll start by applying your processing power to mine cryptocurrencies to recoup lost ad revenue when you use an ad blocker.
Salon also made the disclaimer that “mining uses more of your resources which means your computer works a bit harder and uses more electricity than if you were just passively browsing the site with ads.”
Let the Ads Display or We Will Mine Crypto
The mining option is now shown to all Salon website visitors using an ad blocker. Anyone arriving on any page of the site will immediately see the message, “We noticed you’re using an ad blocker. We depend on ads to keep our content free for you. Please consider disabling your ad blocker so we can continue to create the content you come here to enjoy.” They are subsequently presented with two options: to disable their ad blocker and allowing ads to be displayed or to keep blocking ads but allow Salon to use their spare computing power.
For its beta program, Salon is mining monero, which is more profitable to mine than bitcoin on common PC processors. The cryptocurrency also has a widely used application for websites like Salon to easily deploy, called Coinhive. The program allows websites to mine monero with their visitors’ CPUs, with or without their knowledge. While often described as malware, Coinhive is nonetheless used by several well-known websites including the Pirate Bay.
Salon informs their users upfront that its mining functionality is “Powered by Coinhive,” and displays a link to let visitors read more about the process. The webzine also says that “Nothing is ever installed on your computer and Salon never has access to your personal information or files.”
How Much Processing Power Is Used
To opt-in, users are asked specifically if they would like to allow mining for the duration of the current site visit. Once the “allow for this session” link has been clicked, the users’ processors will immediately start working intensively.
In our informal testing using a modern 4-core Intel processor, all 4 cores’ usage was instantly maxed out within a couple of seconds after clicking the allow button.
As soon as the Salon page was closed, the processors returned to normal. Without clearing cookies, the site will remember users’ opt-in preferences for up to 24 hours, Salon noted, adding that they will be asked to opt-in again after that. Furthermore, Salon clarified:
We automatically detect your current processing usage and assign a portion of what you are not using to this process. Should you begin a process that requires more of your computer’s resources, we automatically reduce the amount we are using for calculations.
What do you think about Salon’s plan to force their users to choose between ads and mining crypto? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Salon.