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Salon asks visitors to turn off their adblockers or start mining cryptocurrency

By midian182 · 20 replies
Feb 14, 2018
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  1. Back when it was discovered that the Pirate Bay was using a hidden in-browser cryptominer, the site said it was only being tested for a short period as a potential new method for generating revenue. Now, online magazine Salon is using Coinhive’s tool in a similar way, but it’s giving visitors an option: turn off your adblockers or let the site utilize your spare computing power to run a miner.

    Anyone visiting Salon.com with an ad-blocker enabled will see a popup asking them to either disable it or “Block ads by allowing Salon to use your unused computing power." As was the case with the numerous cryptojacking instances we’ve seen recently, it uses Coinhive’s mining tool, which utilizes a visitor’s CPU to mine Monero.

    "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," explains the site in its FAQ section.

    "We plan to further use any learnings from this to help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology, digital currencies and other ways to better service the value exchange between content and user contribution."

    Salon doesn’t specify exactly how much of a computer’s CPU power it will consume. Allowing the site to use my PC for mining saw Chrome’s CPU usage shoot up from around 9 percent to about 95 percent and made my rig sound like it was about to take off. CPU temperatures went from 35 degrees to 56, and it caused everything to freeze for a couple of seconds on a few occasions, though the experience will doubtlessly be different for everyone depending on their hardware.

    Salon’s new system hasn’t gone down well with most people, but with adblockers now being used by millions, publishers need to find new ways of generating revenue to stay afloat. Subscriptions are becoming a popular alternative, but don’t be surprised to see more sites following Salon’s lead.

    Permalink to story.

  2. yRaz

    yRaz Nigerian Prince Posts: 2,680   +1,928

    Mine Moneroe for the site because all my CPU usage is prioritized in other areas, like running crypto trading bots. They can have my remaining CPU power if I don't have to look at ads (hint, there is hardly anything left)
  3. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,015   +1,412

    Heh...I think anyone who allows a complete stranger to use their computer to crypto-mine in lieu of looking at ads is just asking for the worst to happen. It would be like taking your PC to a computer store, opening up the case and saying to anyone who walks by, "take whatever you want."

    Speaking of ad blockers, I think the forces of ad evil are gaining advantage. It's extremely rare now that I can go to a website where I don't get a "we see you're using adblocker - turn it off, pay a subscription fee or go away" pop-up.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  4. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,194   +4,856

    I have uBlock Origin installed. Decided to visit just to see the popup. I scrolled the main page down more than 50 articles. I even clicked to read one of the articles. I never saw the popup.

    Either way I can say that if I do encounter the popup somewhere, I will simply leave. There is simply nothing of value on anyone's site worth that much headache.
    Theinsanegamer, Reehahs and holdum323 like this.
  5. holdum323

    holdum323 Banned Posts: 1,724   +455

    Hi! I love seeing that pop-up " Please turn off your Ad-blocker" I know it's working. I have a big laugh and move on.
  6. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,424   +591

    I'm at work so I can test with my personal laptop which has adblock plus installed.

    I saw the message right away. I will test with Ublock later.

    I'm curious to see what it will do with my home connection as I have ad blocking done at the router level which usually gets around all their detection.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
    cliffordcooley likes this.
  7. BSim500

    BSim500 TS Evangelist Posts: 565   +1,104

    The problem with these "We've noticed you're using an adblocker" anti-ad-block scripts is that they rely on detecting whether an IP address has accessed the content pages but not the ad files with a short time frame (ie, rely on adblockers not downloading the ads within 2s of downloading the content). Aside from the fact noscript can amusingly block anti-ad-block scripts, this is also easily got around by getting adblockers to access the advert files as normal, but then simply hide the elements with blank placeholders. End result - user still doesn't see the ads, site still doesn't get any click-throughs, but now more bandwidth has been wasted working around a now totally ineffective warning popup.

    As for allowing sites to run parasitic scripts that max out my CPU as some "alternative", not a chance in hell. I'd just stop visiting the site.

    Edit: I just visited Salon with noscript + ublock enabled, and didn't see a single anti-ad-block warning. Disabled noscript but left ublock enabled, and there was the warning. Re-enabled noscript and could browse the entire site without seeing a single ad (or warning about ad blocking) plus as a bonus, it also blocked scripts from several other 3rd-party tracking sites like indexww.com, ntv.io, etc. So that didn't last long...
  8. GeforcerFX

    GeforcerFX TS Evangelist Posts: 841   +343

    If I use ublock origin it pops up the ad, if I disable Ublock and use my firewall it doesn't popup and they can't mine anything.

    Edit: The redirect on the host file works perfectly as well.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  9. Ad block isn't their problem. Weak, soy-infused content is their problem.
  10. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,194   +4,856

    And they are making their problem worse by fighting people, who choose to use an Ad-blocker.
    psycros likes this.
  11. GreenNova343

    GreenNova343 TS Maniac Posts: 337   +222

    Can honestly say I can't remember the last time (if ever) that I visited Salon.com for anything...& now I don't see that changing for the foreseeable future...
  12. CaptainTom

    CaptainTom TS Maniac Posts: 391   +194

    I would actually prefer websites use my CPU to mine rather than see annoying ads lol. As long as they mine at a very low intensity level, it doesn't matter to me at all.

    Although they better not do it on my Phone!
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  13. hahahanoobs

    hahahanoobs TS Evangelist Posts: 2,343   +816

    Lawsuit incoming.
    Moving on....
  14. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,213   +2,676

    By the time they are sued for this, they will mine enough money to pay for the lawyers.

    It's like a bank robbery in progress.
    senketsu likes this.
  15. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Addict Posts: 196   +119

    Block Ad's at the router, not at the PC. You will never see the "please whitelist us?" pop-up. Router distros like Untangle and pfSense make this super simple to do.
  16. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,424   +591

    So home now and tested it.

    And yep with ad blocking done on the router level I get nothing, if I enable ad block on the browser still nothing :)
    cliffordcooley and axiomatic13 like this.
  17. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,454   +2,136

    Please finish dying, Salon, and take the NYT, Rolling Stone and the rest of the detritus with you.
    davislane1 and holdum323 like this.
  18. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,424   +1,587

    For other sites? I MIGHT mine for them, if the site is really, really good, but even then it is iffy. The only sites I'd ever say genuinely yes are those that, because they go against liberal group-think, cant run ads because nobody will serve them, and cant take donations because paypal refuses to serve them for the same reason.

    For Salon? LOLNO. that site could vanish into the ether and nothing of value would be lost.
  19. Mighty Duck

    Mighty Duck TS Addict Posts: 134   +71

    How did websites survive in the era before ads?
  20. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 11,194   +4,856

    At that time the site itself was advertisement for a real world product. Now they think they can live without the real world product and make money off of nothing at all.
  21. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 347   +168

    Now with this cryptomining Salon has really lost their cred. You'd have to go to ludicrous lengths to rationalize any good for the economy, the ecology, and the culture that that activity produces. It's an exercise in sheer greed that makes Wall Street gambling look responsible by comparison. Obviously Salon is desperate, but if one has to become beastly then all is lost.

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