Web Mining: is that bad?
It all started with The Pirate Bay adding a web mining script to their site, so whenever you’d visit them, your CPU would be used to mine some Monero for them. That was made without any notice to the user, just “stealing” their power. That was probably the best ad Coinhive (which is the service hosting the mining script and providing the required infrastructure to mine Monero) could get, as it appeared all over the news (even some local newspaper got noticed). And, as it was to expect, plenty of sites added the same piece of script so they could also benefit from their users base.
But something really interesting followed to this: most ad-block extensions started to block Coinhive, frustrating all the efforts of these people getting reach.
Let’s stop for a second and analyze what happened:
- Website owners use their users’ computers to mine (earn) some (crypto-) money.
- Ad-blockers think that’s an abuse and not legitimate and start blocking that mining.
- Lots of news about how evil these people are written all over the internet.
Really? So I, as a content creator, willingly giving that content to the community, am an evil person for trying to monetize that content / time with the cost of the electricity the user spends while being on my site. Because everything on Internet must be free of cost, and those evil people trying, not to live from it, but just to get a little money for their time, should be ashamed of even trying.
Well, a similar thing happened with ads, and when sites started abusing of them, making the user experience a pain, is when ad blockers started flourishing, and well-behaved content creators getting their incomes cut. And the same should happen to those who mine under the hood, without the user approval, or those who mine using too much CPU time, making user’s computer unusable.
But we have not given yet the chance to make of web mining a legitimate way to monetize content. And why? Probably not because you’re abusing your users CPU or because users are not aware, but because you’re making money without taking into account Adsense or other gigantic ad platforms that could run into serious problems if this becomes a trend.
Why otherwise would Chrome’s team have worried so much and so fast about this, proposing even the creation of a throttle down inside the browser itself?
I don’t think this recent noise is all about mining itself but about those ad platforms losing their control over Internet content monetization.
Note: as you would probably have noticed when loaded this post, a popup appeared asking for your permission to mine using your CPU. It’s totally up to you to decide if should get some of your time or not.