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Chris Williams
Chris Williams

Posted on • Originally published at Medium on

Mining for Crypto in the browser is not evil.

The old argument is that the content on the internet needs paying for. Long gone are the days where everything is created by enthusiasts and people messing around in their spare time. Today’s content and platforms are high-quality and expensive to produce, and at the moment we’ve really only got three models to pay for it:

  1. Subscription or pay-per-content. You want it? Open your wallet — subscription models are becoming more popular for the high-end content such as video and music, and that’s great. But it doesn’t really trickle down to things that you don’t really think you should be paying for, stuff that doesn’t have that real, tangible sense of value. Sure I’ll subscribe to Google Play Music, Amazon Prime, and Strava, but would I pay per month to use Twitter? No.
  2. Ads and marketing You’re the product that’s being sold here, have no illusions. Hope you like ads. You’re targeted within 10 feet of your location and everyone knows what mood you’re currently in, and if you’re planning to buy a toaster or a coffee in the next ten minutes. Feeling a little grubby?
  3. Donations. That thing you’ll get around to next time.

So, now there’s the idea of a fourth option. A bit of code runs in the website, extension, or app that you’re making good use of, and quietly and unobtrusively uses some of your CPU cycles to make a bit of money for it’s creator. You get the content ad-free, they get paid — this is what coin mining in browser could lead to.

Now, there’s an option to have a business model without advertising in mind. A model that isn’t trying to squeeze every little last drop of revenue out of you, because the money is being earned by you being on the site. The miner doesn’t care who you are or what shopping mood you’re in, it just get’s on and mines a tiny fraction of a given crypto-currency.

Is that so bad? Apparently people think so.

This is from two genuine reviews of an extension we tried this over the week. These got posted once it was published on Redditthat it contained the miner — something that we had put in the description of the extension from the very beginning.

No addon is worth giving the author CPU time and electricity. That’s what a coin miner takes from you.

No addon? I use a few that make my workday easier because of what their authors have created, and I try to donate or pay when I can. What if I didn’t have to, because every hour I had their tool open in the browser, it earned them money? What about websites, does the same apply here if they can offer me an advert-free, tracking free experience?

Here’s another one

he’s taking your electricity and bill so he can pay his.

Is that any difference between someone taking up your screen space to show you adverts? That just about defines all brand-awareness advert campaigns.

I’m not going to say here that this technology won’t have it’s problems. People will abuse it, and because of this others will distrust it. I personally learned about it after reading what The Pirate Bay did a weekend ago. The reaction to that where news articles that included the words ‘hidden’ and ‘secretly’, not a great first impression made to the world.

But, I’m not going to say that this is a bad technology ether. The idea of an advert free web, and a more anonymous web because of that, is something that we should be excited about.

Let’s not stamp on ways that content creators can earn enough to pay the bills.

Top comments (1)

gspteck profile image
GSPTeck • Edited

I personally think the same. It is not a bad way of monetization, but people can and will abuse it. As long as the site owner informs the user of the mining, or gives them a way to deactivate it, it should be ok for the owner to do so.
Website owners can just make it so that your visitors can choose between ads or mining depending on what they prefer.