FAQ: What happens when I choose to “Suppress Ads” on Salon?
Like most media companies, Salon pays its bills through advertising and we profoundly appreciate our advertising partners and sponsors. In this traditional arrangement between reader and publisher, we are able to offer our readers a free reading experience in exchange for serving them ads. This relationship — of free or subsidized content in exchange for advertising — is not new; journalism has subsisted on this relationship for well over a century. This quid pro quo arrangement, ideally, benefits both readers and media. Yet in the past two decades, shifting tides in the media and advertising industries threw a wrench in this equation.
As our readers are surely aware, journalism has changed precipitously in the internet era. Newspaper ad revenue fell from $60 billion in 1999 to $20 billion in 2010. As papers moved content online, the increase in online ad revenue was not sufficient to make up this $40 billion gap. This is in part because 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.
Yet unlike newspapers, Salon was always online-only, meaning that we had an edge over media outlets that had to make the harrowing transition from print to online. Founded in 1995, Salon was a pioneer in the online-first media world and hence not subject to the same vicissitudes of the newspaper industry.
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. The principle behind this is that your readership has value both to us and to our advertisers. Recently, with the increasing popularity of ad-blocking technology, there is even more of a disintegration of this already-tenuous relationship; like most media sites, ad-blockers cut deeply into our revenue and create a more one-sided relationship between reader and publisher.
We realize that specific technological developments 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.
How does Salon make money by using my processing power?
The demand for computing power across many different industries and applications is potentially very high.
For our beta program, we want to discover how we can apply multiple processors to process something that has value in order to offset costs. For a proof of concept we will start by applying your processing power to mine cryptocurrencies which is an existing programmatic way to apply multiple processors to a task that generates value and help recoup lost ad revenue when you use an ad blocker. Mining is the process by which transactions of digital currency are verified on the blockchain. Doing so provides awards in the form of digital currency.
We plan to further use these learnings to help support the evolution and growth of many other ways that might be possible to better service the value exchange between content and user contribution beyond ads and mining.
Your unused processing power are the resources you already have but are not actively using to it's full potential at the time of browsing salon.com. Mining uses more of your resources which means your computer works a bit harder and uses more electricity than if you were just passively browsing the site with ads.
In any case, the possibilities for this sort of technology are limitless: Currently your spare computing power goes to solving the kinds of complex math problems that form the integrity of blockchains, but it can also be used for humanitarian and scientific projects such as helping research how proteins fold, to aid in biological discovery or helping pay for misdemeanor prisoners’ bail, or to see if we can better predict the impact of climate change.
Your spare computing power can even help analyze astronomical signals to figure out if extraterrestrials are trying to contact us. Some scholars have proposed using spare computing power to help secure voting and verify the integrity of democratic elections. In any case our intention is to figure our how decentralized computing can be applied to other industries who need computing power to help reduce cost of operating a website and decrease reliance on ads.
What is this?
An option for you to support Salon is by allowing Salon to use your unused processing power in the background while you are browsing Salon’s free content. This happens only when you are browsing Salon.com. Nothing is ever installed on your computer and Salon never has access to your personal information or files. You may have heard the myth that we only use 10% of our brain. Likewise, your computer rarely uses the full extent of its processing power, particularly if you are doing passive things online like reading an article or watching a video on our site.
Do I have other options?
1. Turn off your ad blocker
2. Download our new ad free tablet, mobile and streaming paid app on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Fire (coming soon!) Subscribe to our newsletter and we will notify you the day it comes out.
What is Salon doing with my computer if I decide to opt-in?
Salon is mining digital currencies (for our beta, Monero). To do that, we are instructing your processor to run calculations. Think of it like borrowing your calculator for a few minutes to figure out the answer to math problems, then giving it back when you leave the site. This process will use more of your computer power and electricity than if you were browsing the site without an ad blocker.
If I opt-in, will I see ads?
The short answer is no. If you opt-in, your ad-blocker remains turned on, and your experience will remain consistent with the experience you are used to when you come to Salon.com with your ad-blocker on.
Is anything installed on my computer? Do I have to download anything?
Nothing is ever installed on your computer. No additional downloads are required. The process takes place in the background.
Why are my fans turning on?
Any time that your computer is turned on, its central processing unit (CPU) is being used to some extent. More intensive computing processes use more computing power and electricity; for instance, having many applications open or using processor-intensive programs like Adobe Photoshop will heat up your computer, as its processor has more electricity running through it. Most computers have fans that automatically turn on to dissipate heat when more processing power is used — regardless of the cause. And indeed, some users report that the slight rise in computing power activates their computer’s cooling fans.
Salon’s opt-in program uses the unused portion of your computer’s processing power for as long as you are on the site. 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.
How do I get the process to stop?
If you opt-in, your computer will only be donating its spare processing power for the duration that you are browsing Salon.com. When you close Salon.com in your browser, the process stops.
We will remember your opt-in preference for up to 24 hours. There after we will ask you again to opt-in. If you clear your cookies, you may be asked to opt-in again.
Turn off your ad blocker if after you opt-in but decide you no longer want to donate your processing power when viewing Salon and are within the 24 hours of having opted in last.
What about my privacy?