Salon notes that ads allow the site to make money from readers without requiring them to pay for subscriptions.
By roping in users' computers to mine Monero, a privacy-focused cryptocurrency now worth around $240 per coin on digital currency exchanges, the publication seeks to encourage users who want to avoid seeing ads to instead subsidise the site's work with their personal computers' spare processing power.
Salon is one of the first digital media publications in the world to move to mining cryptocurrency from users' PCs, a massive shift from the norm of traditional online ads. If you want to read Salon without seeing ads, you can do so-as long as you let the website use your spare computing power to mine some coins.
"We noticed you're using an ad blocker".
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The technology is designed to consume a reader's unused processor power to help perform the decryption needed to create new monero coins, which are now worth about $233 each.
Addressing the program, Salon's teams wrote: "Like most media sites, ad-blockers cut deeply into our revenue and create a more one-sided relationship between reader and publisher".
The decision comes at a time when ad-blocking software has significantly hindered many websites' ad revenue.
Still, it's unclear exactly how much Salon will make revenue-wise from its cryptocurrency activities.
On Salon, readers aren't forced into cryptocurrency mining because of the site's opt-in system. That is to say, if I return to salon.com during the same session, my computer will continue mining Monero.
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Later it says that, "We intend to use a small percentage of your spare processing power to contribute to the advancement of technological discovery, evolution and innovation", and "we'll start by applying your processing power to mine cryptocurrencies to recoup lost ad revenue when you use an ad blocker". Salon's cryptocurrency of choice is Monero, according to Cyberscoop. Monero is now popular among criminals because it offers more anonymity than Bitcoin. Coinhive is considered malware because it's used by hackers to use people's computers for mining without their permission.
"Currently a lot of sites that have trouble monetizing with ads use Coinhive".
Salon is also being called out by David Gerard, author of the cryptocurrency book Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain: Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum & Smart Contracts.
Salon's "powered by Coinhive" pop-up.
This would cause a problem.
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In a Frequently Asked Questions page on its website, Salon told readers the idea was part of a trial.