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What happens when I choose to “Suppress Ads” on Salon? (salon.com)
129 points by noahsark769 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 152 comments



This is everything I wanted from micropayments. Please, take my money rather than forcibly taking my attention and shoving garbage through my brain. Too bad it has to waste electricity, but at least it's not abusing my poor, finite, distractible, distortable brain. It's not precious to anyone else, but it's precious to me.


Is it really everything you want? Because one thing that I can imagine wanting with micropayments is transparency about how much you are paying...


You can control how much is "spent" with with a cap on CPU utilization.


I'm not sure if that would slow the page down and make it unusable though. Prioritizing non-mining activity seems like it might be trickier than simply capping processor usage.

Although it's not quite the same thing, it makes me think of how bandwidth heavy pages are now. Once upon a time, I browsed the web on 56K, or even 14.4K. Now, when my phone gets throttled to 128K many sites are unbearable.


My phone is currently throttled to 8kB/s. The only thing I can read is Hackernews; this is a well-built site.


Reminds me of google web lite. Its used on slow mobile connections from google search in some countries. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6211428?hl=en


CNN Lite comes to mind.

https://lite.cnn.io/en


Browsers do not provide such caps for JS CPU usage. Maybe they should.

This is extra bad when you're viewing on a phone, tablet or battery powered laptop.


If this problem persists, we will see tools popping up that use the OS APIs for restricting resource usage (e.g. cgroups on Linux) when starting the browser.


All it needs is faking the available computing power to any process created by the browser, or run it into a VM with extremely limited resources.


Not everything. But having this appear out of nowhere after years of waiting for micropayments for journalism is enough to make me gush like that.


Check out brave and brave payments.


The top Google result for them seems to be a broken page. https://www.brave.com/blog/introducing-brave-payments/



I'd rather pay 10 cents than waste 20 cents in electricity. There just isn't good way to really do that easily and transparently.


Half-baked thoughts here, but the way I thought of it is you'd "top-up" your browser with say $10 a month and it would be distributed to sites you've viewed or chosen to donate to. There's obvious questions with privacy though and sites trying to game the system if it's view count based. I think most people wouldn't be against a small monthly payment to avoid seeing ads but you'd need to do it in a way that was simple and transparent that didn't require lots of work per site.


The distribution system you're describing is: https://flattr.com/


Brave Browser & Basic Attention Token (BAT) seems to have more traction: https://brave.com/creators/


Nobody wants to have am account you have to top up. You need to plan ahead, there would be multiple systems not completely overlapping (or some sites being cheaper with a specific billing company), and a myriad of other reasons. You would need to sequester multiple monies, and some you might ever use like having $3.12 left on a gift card, but multiple cards.


This is the Flattr model https://flattr.com/ that they recently moved to. I wish they moved to this model years ago, but I guess it was too soon for the time.


https://github.com/priestc/Autotip

was nice back in days when fee was low


Check out the Brave browser and Google Contributor.


Sure, but we've been waiting for micropayments for 20+ years. No exaggeration. The infrastructure isnt there. Cryptocurrencies have some infrastructure already. I'll pay the electricity tax if I can reward good content and not have ads.

If this catches on it might spur alternate and less wasteful solutions, but until then I've been all for this.


> Too bad it has to waste electricity...

It doesn't waste electricity. It uses a lot of electricity to create a secure global payment network that can solve the micropayments problem. Sacrificing efficiency for decentralization was a key design decision in Bitcoin.

YouTube cat videos and daytime television are genuine wastes of power. Humanity has to solve the power generation problem and processors are already far more power efficient than they were.


Cat videos and daytime television waste less power while providing much more value.

Ultimately cryptocurrencies have some value offering, but it's of dubious utility, because you can get 99% there with a little bit of trust, and then you don't have to pay this humongous upkeep in electricity.

Popularity of cryptocurrencies is almost entirely driven by greed, so it obscures the actual value of blockchain tech.


Keep it in mind that Proof of Work is necessary for this initial world of decentralized trust to be created, but after that, it is not necessary. Nearly all the other cryptocurrencies can bootstrap themselves using bitcoin and following Proof of Stake or some other non-PoW algorithm.

Even if Bitcoin dies, we still don't need to bring PoW again.


You're technically correct in that it does provide some value, but it is a waste in the sense that it is CPU mining which is far less efficient than mining with GPUS or ASICS.


There are proof of work algorithms that try to be ASIC-proof. And most visitors already have a CPU and GPU sitting idle. Something that used an extra 25% of your processors may not even be noticeable, and yet it could solve the fake news and clickbait problems.


Clickbait and fake news are not solely driven by advertising revenue so even if idle CPU and GPU had zero marginal cost crypto would not eliminate them. On top of that utilizing idle capacity is not free. The cost associated with crypto algorithms is real and must be evaluated in the context of what else could be done with the energy and compute resources. It’s not clear to me that crypto is the best use of our resources.


Is there a way to be ASIC-proof without being less efficient? I'm not 100% familiar with it, but my base level understanding was that you are adding more work (e.g. memory access) to nullify the raw compute advantage of ASICs.

Further, I'm not sure how it would solve clickbait. Surely clickbait => more clicks => more people running your miner (just as it currently leads to more ad. views)?


The thing is, finding a nonce that with given payload gives a hash ending with predefined number of zero bits has only one purpose: so everybody is very slow in computing it, but everybody is very fast in verifying. You can trade it for any other difficult problem that's easy to verify (anything NP-complete will do, assuming P != NP), you just need to find encoding that maps a payload into a problem instance.

In other words, you could replace proof of work with finding the largest clique in a graph, and try doing that in ASIC.


But the way crypto has ended up, big pools are sacrificing efficiency for (some) centralisation.


In the crypto money flow, I get to see the page for a $0,20 payment from me to my electricity company, but I'm still struggling to see the value transfer from the electricity company to Salon.com.

Someone™ is paying good greenbacks for irrefutable proof of me wasting kilowatts. The more I try to understand that part of the crypto value chain, the more bizarre it seems. "It's a store of value", i.e. Salon.com can later pay someone else with the same "proof of wasted cpu cycles"? What?!


It’s just proof that you didn’t forge a scarce commodity. The value isn’t related to the wasted electricity, but the hard problem the electricity was used to solve. Love it or hate it, it makes sense.


It doesn't make sense because it's a negative-sum game.

The only thing people are actually using Bitcoin for right now is to sell to other people for more than they bought it (or maybe to sell for less than they bought it to launder money).

The total amount made by the buyers and sellers is zero (because every buyer is buying from a seller), and there has to be a constant inflow of new buyers just to cover the cost of the hardware and power.


You're right that crypto currencies are not productive assets and as such they are a negative-sum game.

But they have utility. At this point I think mostly for gamblers and criminals as you said yourself.

But they also have utility for all sorts of tinkerers, and via that route they may eventually become more useful to the rest of us.


Yeah, it's wrong to deny cryptocurrencies have utility. They do.

The real problem is the associated upkeep. If it were to get comparable in use with fiat, I believe Bitcoin would quite literally cook us all on this planet. The energy characteristics of crypto are unbounded from top, and this is seen as a feature - unlike normal financial systems, which try to minimize it.


I agree that it does look disproportionate. But my understanding (I'm by no means an expert) is that it could theoretically become less disproportionate as more transactions are being processed.

Proof of work is not a per transaction cost. It's a per block cost that doesn't depend on the number of transactions per block or the size of the block.

But still, the way the incentives are structured in this whole game seems somewhat perverse. Otherwise we would never have gotten to a point where bitcoin mining has a country sized energy profile.


It's not a per transaction cost, but as I understand it they are closely related and there is no upper bound on it. As the number of transactions per block and the value of the currency increases, it becomes more profitable to mine, thus it makes more economic sense to invent more power into it.


Or, sell it after stealing it / mining it via botnet / etc.


Tell that to a Venezuelan, who can provide a family with a single antminer.

It will make sense to you in 5 years.


How exactly? Who is doing this? Withdrawal from exchanges into Venezuela? Who is buying bitcoins for Bolivars?

How did the family get the capital asset of an antminer in the first place? How are they paying for electricity?

How is this sustainable? Why is a random family able to compete with businesses that have real economy of scale, rather than having their margin driven to zero?


https://hackernoon.com/extortion-police-raids-and-secrecy-in...

https://coin.dance/volume/localbitcoins/VEF (example of local trading)

Remittances, family abroad (easy via BTC to circumvent restrictions). Bitcoin is stable compared to a hyper inflation of +2,616%.


Your feel-good story about Venezuela is unrelated to what I said.


Excuse me. Was more a reaction on "The only thing people are actually using Bitcoin for right now is to sell to other people for more than they bought it (or maybe to sell for less than they bought it to launder money)."


But does that hard problem actually do anything? If it was something like Folding@Home, I could see the value. It seems to me, the only “value” in this hard problem is to waste electricity.


Mining in Crypto Currencies is the process to Verify, Order, and Secure the transactions in the global ledger. Without mining no one could send transactions, without transactions the currency does not function.

The hard problem that the mining algorithm computes is a Hash of a batch of transactions together with some meta data. This meta data also includes the Hash of the previous batch. This is creating a cryptographic chain of transaction batches (blocks). A Blockchain.

This is securing the transactions in the following way:

- You can not change a transaction without changing the hash of the batch the transaction was included in.

- This would also change the hash of all transaction batches that follow.

- The crypto currency miners and users follow the longest chain with the most work put into.

- To fake or alter a Transaction you would need to recalculate the hashes of the blocks that follow faster then the honest miners so that your new chain is the longest chain.

- More honest miners means it is harder to manipulate the blockchain since to do that you would need to control more then 51% of the global hash power of this currency.

Securing a Blockchain is not as noble of an effort then curing cancer with Folding@Home, but it is also not just wasting electricity.


You’re right; I phrased that poorly. What I intended was “the value derives from a proof that an amount of work was done, independent of the hard problem that necessitated the work or the resources expended to solve the problem.”

The value in proving some amount of work was done is that it’s a mechanism for defeating fraud.


What it does is prevent someone from fraudulently altering transactions, because to do so would require an enormous amount of energy.


This is a really good point. And strangely, like so much wealth in our economies, this one has nothing physical backing it up, but is suited to something we crave.

And in this case, trust seems to be the underlying commodity.


It’s called proof of work: https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf


The giant pile of dirt on my back yard is proof that I did hours of hard work with a tea spoon. Much less efficient than a shovel would have been, as a metaphor for hash algorithms designed to be difficult.

Why is that proof of work of any value, to anyone?

Hard work, just for the sake of hard work, is a great ideal to the the previous generations - but we traditionally have based our economy on how much your work benefits someone, not how hard you worked.

Mining bitcoin is extremely hard, with precisely zero benefit. The only thing of value is the work itself. Quite zen, even.


Do you genuinely not understand the idea of proof of work, or are you just attempting to conceal your actual point, which is that you don’t think the transactions in the Bitcoin network are very valuable?

You’re making it sound like you genuinely don’t understand proof of work. Proof of work is the reason that it is effectively impossible to fraudulently alter Bitcoin transactions. Again, it’s fine if you don’t care about that because you don’t see any value in those transactions, but surely you recognize the huge importance of preventing the modification of previous transactions in any sort of payment system.


> The giant pile of dirt on my back yard is proof that I did hours of hard work with a tea spoon.

It isn't proof: you could have used a digger. The point of Bitcoin-style proof-of-work is that everyone has to use a teaspoon, and if you want to 'go back in time' and rewrite transactions you have to do more work with a teaspoon than everyone else is doing.


> The only thing of value is the work itself. Quite zen, even.

Or would be, if GPUs could experience enlightenment.

One day, maybe.


Everybody in this thread knows that it's called proof of work. What you call it is not the point.


The increased use of browser mining has made it a lot easier to convince people to globally disable Javascript (or install noscript/etc). Security concerns are rarely convincing, and tracking can be hard to explain, but paying for more electricity and worse UI response time are things people actually care about.


I have no problem at all with websites using browser mining as an alternate monetization strategy to ads, as long as:

1) Permission is requested first

2) The UX is good (it stays out of my way and doesn't slow down my device)

3) The mining finishes when I leave the site

Most of the problems with the modern web stem from the failure of browser vendors to implement a good user-centric permissions model. They all hold an unquestioned belief that more power in the platform is always better, and they've all spent the past 15 years kowtowing to developers, advertisers, and profit-motivated corporations instead of protecting their users from the above.

I want a simple, limited, fast, secure, document-centric platform which allows the site to request the execution of additional functions. Publishers unsurprisingly abuse the freedom they currently enjoy to throw up popovers on every page, secretly steal CPU cycles, load-on-demand videos that follow me as I scroll, and track every move I make online. I don't want any of that to work by default.

A common, well-intentioned argument against my point of view in the last few years has been that the web platform needs to compete with native mobile apps. That argument carried a lot more weight when everyone was installing tons of native apps. But increasingly we're at the point where we're sick of native apps for all the same reasons we're sick of the web -- they too are bloated attention + data thieves.

We need a true user-first platform. I'll pay for sites or apps on that platform, or I'll let them use my CPU to mine crypto. I just want them to not suck.

Microsoft, Mozilla and Apple could all lead the way in shipping browsers that are pro-user. Mozilla's got the heart for it, Microsoft and Apple have little to lose. Leaders at all these companies have failed to lead and demonstrate vision, relegating themselves to playing second fiddle to Google on the web because they think shitty popup ads will be the final word in web history.


> Most of the problems with the modern web stem from the failure of browser vendors to implement a good user-centric permissions model.

I suggest that such creating a proper permission model isn't possible, because it isn't possible to determine the behavior of Turing complete programs without running them[1]. Browsers are currently chasing the impossible[2] goal of trying to enumerate badness - often only the known types of badness that fit their permission model.

> I want a simple, limited, fast, secure, document-centric platform

We had that: HTML, before Javascript. Allowing any Turing complete code to run at all will always be risky[3].

[1] halting problem

[2] http://www.ranum.com/security/computer_security/editorials/d...

[3] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15708099


There are things that could be done in spite of Turing. For instance, web pages could be granted CPU and memory quotas.

If they want to run JavaScript that uses more than say 5% CPU or more than 300 MB of memory (both on average over 30 seconds) they must ask for permission.


> I suggest that such creating a proper permission model isn't possible, because it isn't possible to determine the behavior of Turing complete programs without running them.

You don't need to solve the halting problem to have a good user-centric permission model; permissions are about resources, not computation, the halting problem doesn't address use of resources. Whitelisting APIs, firewall-like control of access to external network resources, and possibly CPU usage limits would be sufficient, with he right UI.


So have predefined, approved functions that achieve 90% of required functionality, who's composition may not be TC.

Anything custom requires permission.

Also, don't crypto-miners need to pass their results back? That's one point of attack - restrictions on what data can be passed back.


> So have predefined, approved functions that achieve 90% of required functionality, who's composition may not be TC.

Aka declarative configuration, which we have already: HTML.

Define new tags for if necessary.

> Anything custom requires permission.

You generate that server side.


> which we have already: HTML

HTML cannot perform 90% of what JS is used for, otherwise the js wouldn't be needed. "Define new tags" might be one way, ala Angular directives, but it would still require notions of safety attached to those directives/functions.

> You generate that server side.

A server-side crypto miner? Websites/apps are increasingly client-side intensive/heavy. Perhaps there is no need for non-generic/safe client side code, but I'm not so sure. In any case, requiring permission to run anything custom would be a reasonable restriction I think.


> HTML cannot perform 90% of what JS is used for

Yes, that's the goal.

> Angular ... directives/functions

HTML is a document format, not an application framework. My entire point is that complexity cannot be made safe. Repackaging the Turing completeness into different forms only moves the problem around. The only way to reduce the attack surface back to something that is decidable is to remove complexity (aka features).

> A server-side crypto miner?

You can do whatever you want on the server. However, I was replying to the desire for "anything custom".

> Websites/apps are increasingly client-side intensive/heavy.

Yes, that's the problem.

> but I'm not so sure

Server-side apps worked fine before Javascript existed, just like they did on the IBM 3270 which was the model for HTML+forms.

> requiring permission to run anything custom would be a reasonable restriction I think.

That only re-creates the current situation on phones where apps ask for everything and refuse to run if you don't grant them permission. That hasn't worked in practice, because it's easy to social engineer people that do not have the necessary engineering background to understand what that permission really means.


> packaging the Turing completeness into different forms only moves the problem around

The solution I proposed doesn't require TC, except in code that needs explicit permission to run.

> reduce the attack surface back to something that is decidable

You don't need decidability, just trust. A function checked manually and signed by a reputable source is enough. Are internet browsers formally checked? The only aspect that needs to be decidable is composition of signed functions, not the functions themselves, as safety is represented by the signature.

building functionality into HTML might be similar, except I'd assume would be more bogged down by consortia. Add the ability to sign JS functions and verify their composition, and you can decide who's signatures to trust.

> Server-side apps worked fine before Javascript existed

Sure, but did they scale as well?

> That only re-creates the current situation on phones where apps ask for everything and refuse to run if you don't grant them permission

Maybe, it depends how you design it. I think that should change too. But those environments are currently restricted in ways the internet is not.

I'm also far happier for a website to indicate to me that they aren't worth my time by this kind of access refusal. Same thing happening with pay-walled news sites - I'll happily blacklist them.


> The increased use of browser mining has made it a lot easier to convince people to globally disable Javascript (or install noscript/etc).

Has it though? Do you have any data to back up this assumption?

I can't find ANYONE who is tech illiterate who understands any of this stuff and those that I know are tech literate either don't notice or don't care about JavaScript. I've only ever met very, very few people who disable JavaScript and when they do it's always been piecemeal.

I haven't been able to find any statistics regarding who does and doesn't disable JavaScript, their group size, etc. It would be really interesting to know!


> Has it though?

I have personally succeeded in convincing more people to disable javascript in the last few months than I have since Javascript was introduced in Netscape Navigator 2.0.

> this assumption?

I'm offering personal experience, not an assumption.


I've disabled JS and only enable it in incognito when needed/when mandatory for a particular site. Tedious I know, but a habit I picked up when everyone started autoplaying videos.


Don't need javascript to autoplay videos.


On most sites you do. I do this everyday. I should know what I'm talking about.


> worse UI response time

The miner is run in a WebWorker so shouldn't affect the UI response time.


I never said it was the browser's UI.

Regardless of which UI, you do not know people are using their computer for, or how much free CPU they have available.

My friend's 1.2Ghz Core 2 Solo[1] laptop takes many seconds to reload locally hosted static HTML. Loading a youtube page takes >30s, sometimes far more. Anytime a webpage has CPU-bound Javascript - intentionally or not - the mouse becomes a lot harder to use. No, they are not buying a new laptop anytime soon; they live below the poverty line with student loans and medical expenses.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Core_2_microproc...


The last two paragraphs is where it gets sleazy. They're saying you'll "help support the evolution and growth of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies" (a.k.a. paying Salon from your electricity bill), but then allude to the fact that this technology COULD, theoretically, maybe, be used for all sorts of good stuff. Never mind that what it's actually going to be used for is, again, paying Salon.

I approve of their transparency, and I don't have a rational complaint against the method of revenue generation at the moment, but the last part there is an attempt to put lipstick on the pig


For those unfamiliar, Salon.com is a new media company that publishes articles on current events from a left-leaning perspective - for example, "Bitcoin could cost us our clean-energy future" [1]

[1] https://www.salon.com/2017/12/06/bitcoin-could-cost-us-our-c...


> Salon.com is a new media company

Salon was founded in 1995 (and its close analogue Slate a year later). I guess that "new media" can encompass anything that was primarily digital from the start, but it still feels weird to see that tag applied to something that has been around for over two decades now.


Holy hell. This is the new best in terms of conflicting viewpoints in a single media outlet.


A decent first effort at transparency, but there's one very obvious question missing from the FAQ:

"Will my electricity bill go up or my laptop battery drain faster when I am participating?"

Can't help but think they omitted this on purpose.


Adblock Plus has a cryptominer list. Yes, it does work in ublock origin.

Problem solved? I think so.


uBlock Origin ships their own. It's under '3rd-party filters' as 'uBlock filters – Resource abuse'.


It's pretty easy to proxy the request to a cryptocurrency miner pool through the web server of the main site. e.g. https://github.com/cazala/coin-hive-proxy

Site owners have incentive to run this proxy so they're not marked as a mining site OR to circumvent the X% fee that coinhive/other cryptocurrency pools collect.

So the adblock/ublock origin fixes will only work until site owners decide to start proxying. IMO search providers should penalize sites with poor performance (as they already do) and site owners are penalized if they suck the consumers CPU.

edit: Fixed last sentence


Is that not currently the case with ads, and addressed by blocking certain scripts/elements even if they originate from the same site?

I'd also suspect that it'll just lead to different ways of detecting miners (e.g. fingerprinting the behaviour of mining algorithms, or just blocking scripts that use more than a set CPU budget by default).


Detecting a similar script should prevent the proxying from working, but if the script is bundled into the main JS of the site (as many sites do now) it would be basically impossible to stop w/o blocking JS altogether.

Not sure if browsers can fingerprint script execution patterns, that's way further down than I go.

Script blocking will probably work most of the time, just as blocking certain urls gets rid of most ads.


I actually wouldn't mind if someone made a application that would run on my computer and mine for sites I choose 24/7. Something easy like Minergate or Nicehash but where you say mine for Metafilter, Reddit, and Ars.

I would totally do that since it is 26ºF right now and I am actually mining a shitcoin to heat my apartment. But you would need to have a easy to set a limit like 10% and back off (nice -19) so if I was doing heavy stuff it would throttle.

edit :: and I know minergate steals hashes. But the software is really nice.


I recall we have once discussed this kind of payment for articles, but back-of-the-envelope calculation showed it would take ~170 hrs to mine one cent.


> https://brominer.com/

I'm mining 50 H/s

https://www.cryptocompare.com/mining/calculator/xmr?HashingP...

Estimates in 24 hours I will generate 4 cents of revenue.


Is that really much worse than what advertisers are paying?

I'm only kind of kidding.


I mean, if they're making close to zero because of adblocker, its better than nothing right?


Does mining work also in reader mode? Probably not. There is also NoCoin.

Anyway, I rather lend them some CPU than get ads on my screen.


I would rather do neither.

My CPU, my bandwidth, I decide what runs.

If they want money, they can put up a paywall.


> I decide what runs

Exactly. No-one is forcing you. You are confusing this with sites starting the miner without consent.


When sites are specifically proxying their miners, to act as if they're running in a first-party context, that is deceptive, and done specifically to get around adblockers and mining blockers.

Make it 100% opt-in and tell people in no uncertain terms up front what they're signing up for, then maybe.


> Make it 100% opt-in

It seems to be 100% opt-in in the terms of either you select ads or mining, I am certain you probably mean you want to opt out of ads and mining.


That is not opt-in, that is a forced choice between two evils.

I do not wish to be forced into an opt-out situation. It is opt-in or nothing.

I will continue to block ads, miners and other malicious scripting. They can offer whichever ad or miner they want, and I will simply refuse and block all of them from appearing on my device in my browser to consume my battery power and my bandwidth.

They are more than welcome to put up a paywall, either single payments or a subscription service, and I will pay for their content if it is appealing to me. They are also welcome to (attempt to) block me for using JS/ad blocking. It will either be completely ineffectual and easily circumvented, or it will make me go to other sites, that don't treat their customers as cash cows.

I have absolutely no obligation to unknowingly fund other people's internet profiteering moonshots. If they want money, they can ask for it honestly and directly. I support several content creators on Patreon, and I regularly donate to various open source projects and the like.

I don't mind paying for stuff, but I do mind when it doesn't happen openly and transparently.


This again falls under the heading of "environmental disaster".


It blows my mind that the first site to openly make their users participate in this disaster is the supposedly "progressive" Salon.

Is it clear what they're trying to mine? They have these silly feel-good examples like folding@home but it sounds more like they're going to be moving drug money for anarcho-capitalists like everyone else in this space. Probably Monero, right?


That one makes the most sense, given that it'll be CPU mining.


CPU mines Monero not Bitcoin.


Why do I keep seeing this everywhere on the internet? There's no technical reason not to mine bitcoin on CPU.


Most of the bitcoin network’s mining power is tied up in ASICs right now, and the difficulty has gone up to keep the block rate constant. A CPU just can’t keep up. There was a time when GPUs could, but now they can’t either.

It’s technically possible, I mean nothing is stopping you from running mining code on your machine right now, but you would have little to no return on your electricity investment. Monero makes more sense.

To put this in perspective, a modern desktop CPU will do anywhere from 10 to 20 megahashes per second. A single ASIC will do 4 terahashes and up. The single ASIC is getting so many more bites at the pie that you would literally never mine a single block. Every single simultaneous Salon user could leave their browser open and the ASIC would out-hash their combined compute power in the blink of an eye. The developer time they’re spending on implementing this scheme would be better allocated by buying ASICs themselves!


Because even when you're not paying for electricity, there's much more profitable coins to mine.


That doesn't mean that CPU can't mine bitcoins.


You can mine bitcoins using pen and paper too.


Just because you can doesn't mean you should. If you're not going to make money mining Bitcoin, then why do it?


Are we mining Bitcoins here?


The electricity to do so costs far more than what you generate. And you'd generate almost nothing even leaving a page open all day.


But these leeches don't care about that. It's not their CPU power and battery power being wasted.


From the Coinhive website:

> Monero is different. To mine Monero, you have to calculate hashes with an algorithm called Cryptonight. This algorithm is very compute heavy and – while overall pretty slow – was designed to run well on consumer CPUs.

> There are solutions to run the Cryptonight algorithm on a GPU instead, but the benefit is about 2x, not 10000x like for other algorithms used by Bitcoin or Ethereum. This makes Cryptonight a nice target for JavaScript and the Browser.


Yep, my CPU (i7-4790K @ 4.7 GHz) smokes my dual GTX 780s in hash rate for Monereo.


The difficulty right now is way to high for a CPU to mine bitcoin.


Only mathematical ones


practical reasons


For me, this calls back to a need for micro-transactions much like Flattr, but for all sites. Set your own category budget (e.g. $10/m for 'news'), and then the extension keeps tabs on the sites you visit and the categories they fall under. At the end of the month, the budget is divided up equally.

It doesn't sound like a lot, but even a dime or two per person adds up to more than these companies are seeing from the adblockers.


Check out the brave browser and its payment settings.


yes! that's along the lines I was thinking. On the surface its such a simple idea, but it doesn't seem to be widespread. I also like that it takes into account time spent on the site, but not as the sole metric.

In my view, this will be part of the future of a somewhat ad-free internet.


Think it's interesting how angry website miners make people vs just a banner ad also consuming your entire CPU.

Definitely feel it has an element of Bitcoin FOMO to it. The idea someone used their CPU could get rich off it angers people more than just a badly coded ad using the same amount of CPU.

(Not saying the anger isn't justified, purely an observation when really the power wastage is the same)


I don't understand the comments in this thread. You explicitly have to allow Salon to use your CPU so how is NoCoin, NoScript and other blockers relevant here at all?

The only real argument against this is the environmental one, and it's a big one.


This may be the first step towards a new W3C standard: CPU-as-a-payment.

If browsers and sites could agree on a shared spec, it would provide great UX, with fine grained permissions, promoting well behaving websites while rate limiting others.


I am not interested. I just installed the noCoin filter in uBlock. For all I care your service either

1) provides free content

2) provides content that's so irreplaceable that I will pay for it

3) dies


Soon, there will be CPU blockers to counter this; site sees you have an ad blocker so it uses your CPU; browser's counter-measure notices CPU being used for crypto-currency mining or whatever else, and throttles those threads down to a trickle.

"We have noticed that processing in your browser is suspiciously slow; are you using a CPU blocker? ..."


Would be interesting to pull their destination bitcoin address and see stats of how many nano-bitcoins they've mined so far.


They're not mining Bitcoin, they're mining Monero, and a key property of Monero that makes it a currency is that you can't tell how much someone has.


Anyone know the cost of the mining rig in comparison to the cost of power for running the mining rig? Seems like it would be easier for Salon to just buy their own mining rig but if the energy demands are extreme I can see why they would want to offload this to their readers. Seems convoluted but hey this is the internet.


This is not a way for Salon to mine crypto. This is a way for Salon to get a small amount of money from each of their readers, replacing the small amount of money they used to be able to get by serving some ads along with their articles.

The equivalent action is not “Salon buys their own mining rig”. The equivalent action is “you and a bunch of other readers kick in a buck, and then Salon buys a mining rig”.


Salon needs to fix their malvertising redirect problem, seems more rampant there than anywhere else.


This is a cool twist on the hashcash idea, where Salon gets paid when you do a proof-of-work.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashcash


Are they mining monero? Seems like it w/ CPU usage and apparently being profitable


maybe this is a good idea for open source projects. they can ask their users to open a page and runs in the background with lower priority than users tasks. when the computer is idle they can mine crypto.


I wrote about this model few days back. https://medium.com/@troysk/saving-journalism-with-cryptocurr...


It's clear you've never worked at a newspaper. If one of the major publications tried this sort of hijinx the other papers would latch on and give them badwill to no end. This is not the way to "save journalism", and it's a truly terrible idea that will kill whatever serious publication dares try it. The CBS Showtime site you refer to as "HBO Showtime" in your article was likely hacked, so doesn't back up your point at all.


Great, more sites that will make my laptop sound like an aircraft taking off.

Just nope. If you want to block me from accessing your content with an adblocker active, go for it. But you aren't using my machine like this.

Without explicit agreement I wonder if it's even legal.


It is as legal as any silly website eating all your CPU. Time to fix JS engines to prevent such abuse. Make them a real virtual machines while at it not sombre half baked efforts - that would also help with security holes.


I would love it if browsers detected spikes in cpu usage and ask if you want to end the script, similar to when a page stops responding/locks up.


Firefox does do that.


AFAICT firefox does that when it starts causing problems for the page, and causing unresponsiveness, but not just for processor spikes.


Hmmm haven't noticed it but I don't use it too much, just for testing. Might have to switch for a while to see if I like it.


uBlock Origin is blocking browser-miners as well tho.


> complex math problems that form the integrity of blockchains

There is no complex math problems being solved, it’s litteraly additions. I gringe my teeth everytime I hear that.


It seems that a browser should be built that offers X mining power while visiting site in exchange for no ads or trackers. Instead of malware, mining could be a way to free the web of all its privacy ills.


I think browser developers should look at what Brave is doing with the Basic Attention Token instead.

Brave is distributing this Token to the creators of the content you consume with the browser. Of course the user of brave needs to buy those tokens and in the end this is just a payment system for content, but it is a anonymous one and I would rather pay then have to run crypto miners on my laptop.


Paying for website access by needlessly wasting CPU power.

Doesn't sound like a particularly good idea, especially for laptop users.


I understand this point. But on the other hand, it is not necessarily wasting cpu power. It is converting CPU power to payment for content, as a type of seamless micropayment, not requiring punching in credit card numbers, 3rd parties, setting up accounts etc. Some browser-based standardization of a unit of cycles per view might be established. I don't know, just exploring. The current state of the internet kind of sucks in terms of privacy.


It's wasting CPU/GPU cycles and battery power, vastly more than would be used for a simple micropayment with actual currency.

I refuse to participate in the degradation of my devices' performance as "payment".


More than the current system of loading thousands of ad networks?


Same same.

I block ads with great prejudice and I'll block miners with equal prejudice.

Both are a waste of my bandwidth, my battery power and my attention.


This seem like a natural micropayment system that could free content producers from the need to rely on advertisments and tracking for income. That seems like a good thing, and a formalized method to do so within a browser could speed adoption.


Wow! Oddly I think this is totally acceptable but will eventually go way off the rails with abuse and ruin everything.


I want my cut!

I've been pushing this idea for over a year now (as my HN and other social media comment histories can attest), most recently:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16242816

I should have patented this when I first had it.

Waiting for streaming music and video to embed mining in their players...

Or websites pooling together to stabilizing income streams and provide bulk access.

The idea to rent computer time to a publisher in exchange for content can be taken further.


Mining via Javascript happened back in 2011:

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=9042.0


Coinhive has been around for awhile.


Coinhive made it more viable, but this doable as early as 2011:

https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=9042.0


Terrible idea, and hubris on your part for thinking you can patent this "idea".




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