Salon asks ad-blocking visitors to mine cryptocurrency

The online publication Salon has turned toward cryptocurrency mining as a potential way to make up for lost advertisement revenue. Visitors who use adblock while on the Salon website are being asked to either disable the ad-blocking software, which would allow advertisements to run, or to authorize the website to mine cryptocurrency temporarily using the visitor's computer.

The Internet has become a difficult place for news outlets. Ad-blocking software has resulted in decreased revenues for many websites that depend on that money to pay the bills and keep the lights on. Most visitors who don't want to see advertisements also aren't interested in paying a monthly subscription to access the content, which results in a lack of revenue for the websites, some of which have folded under the strain.

Some websites have resorted to blocking visitors who are running adblock until they disable the software. Doing so isn't exactly popular with Internet users, but from a website's perspective, potentially losing that visitor isn't a huge deal if that visitor isn't supporting the website by loading advertisements.

Recently we've seen a new potential revenue source for sites, something even more controversial with Internet users: mining cryptocurrency with visitors' computers. Some websites do this without permission, in some cases completely disabling the visitor's device by using up its resources to mine bitcoin or some other currency. Others ask permission, which is now the case for Salon.

Salon visitors running adblock are seeing a new pop-up that blocks access to the site's content until one of two things are done: the adblock is disabled or the user allows the site to "use your unused computing power." A link with more info about that latter option takes visitors to this page, where they find out that this option allows the site to use "your processing power to mine cryptocurrencies to recoup lost ad revenue when you use an ad blocker."

In explaining why it has added this alternative, Salon explains the issue of ad-blocking software and the loss of revenue it has created. The company says:

We realize that specific technological developments [adblock and cryptocurrency mining] now mean that it is not merely the reader's eyeballs that have value to our site — it's also your computer's ability to make calculations, too. Indeed, your computer itself can help support our ability to pay our editors and journalists.