Starting Sunday, Salon began offering its readers with a new option - either disable ad-blocker or let us use your computer to mine cryptocurrency while viewing the website. "The value of an online ad is far less than a print ad; the maxim, "print dollars become digital dimes become mobile pennies" articulates the approximate 100:10:1 ratio of print to digital to mobile ad revenues", Salon notes.
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.
"Your fan may turn on for the same reason that your computer's fans turn on when doing any other intensive task, like playing a computer game or watching a full-screen video that makes your computer work harder and use more electricity to process".
Salon assures readers it is normal for computer fans to turn on when the central processing unit is working.
Salon posted an average of 13.1 million unique visitors a month in the final quarter of 2017-though its view figures are likely higher. Mooching off unused CPU is a novel approach-one that could either have huge financial benefits or do damage to Salon's reputation.
Still, it's unclear exactly how much Salon will make revenue-wise from its cryptocurrency activities.
If you chose to allow Salon to mine with your computer that agreement lasts for 24 hours and will then prompt you again on your next visit to their site.
"We noticed you're using an ad blocker".
Hotness is very literal in this case, by the way, because any time you visit Salon from now on, your CPU will be used to mine cryptocurrency on their behalf.
Salon is keen to stress that it will not install anything on the user's computer and the process, it says, will not give Salon access to personal information or files.
"Back in the 1990s, as now, Salon offered the common relationship of serving ads to its users in exchange for keeping most of our content free", Salon wrote. "The principle behind this is that your readership has value both to us and to our advertisers", Salon said in a FAQ on the test program. "Like most media sites, ad-blockers cut deeply into our revenue and create a more one-sided relationship between reader and publisher".
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.