Readers using software to avoid seeing adverts are presented with a pop-up window, says the Financial Times, which asks them if they would like to use their computers' processing power for "calculations". If you say yes to the latter deal, Salon will then invite you to install Coinhive, a software plugin that mines the cryptocurrency known as Monero. Coinhive gets a bad rap because it can be used for illicit purposes, though the software is widely regarded as legitimate, as is the coin that it mines.
Salon has a new strategy of dealing with people who block ads on the website.
Salon is now running a beta that uses the spare processing power in a user's machine to mine cryptocurrencies to make up for the lost revenue when an ad blocker is used.
"On the whole, Salon sounds surprisingly bullish on blockchain technology, announcing that it "[plans] 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".
It turns out that Salon is also using Coinhive, the same service as the hackers, which has grown so widespread that security company Malwarebytes reported past year that it had become one of the main services its anti-malware software blocks.
Salon assures readers it is normal for computer fans to turn on when the central processing unit is working. These will be your choices from now on when you go to Salon's website. "This includes forums, small community sites where users happily give something back and, of course, porn sites", a Coinhive representative said in an email.
If readers opt in, Salon will use their computers to do calculations allowing it to mine cryptocurrrency.
Still, it's unclear exactly how much Salon will make revenue-wise from its cryptocurrency activities.
What do you think of Salon's plan?
We're not going to get into the ethical issues of coin-mining versus ad blocking, because we don't have the answers. Others ask permission, which is now the case for Salon.
Salon notes that ads allow the site to make money from readers without requiring them to pay for subscriptions.
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 principle behind this is that your readership has value both to us and to our advertisers".
Salon now doesn't seem to offer a subscription option but says it will soon deliver "a fast, ad-free experience" in a new, paid app for mobile phones and tablets.