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Reg now behind invisible HTML5 Bitcoin paywall

It'll feel a bit malware-y, but you'll be funding quality journalism without noticing it

Readers will be aware that these are tough times for the media. And The Register is no exception: like many other publishers we need to diversify our revenue base.

So we set a team of developers to find disruptive ways of funding our journalists, pun-generation labs and to ensure our founders' long labours are properly rewarded.

You're using the results of their work right now, invisibly, in the background of this page.

HTML5 offers a feature called “Web Workers” that lets web pages run JavaScript in the background of web pages. Those scripts have nothing to do with the user interface and can be invisible to users, other than the fact they consume some processor cycles.

The Register has used Web Workers to create a distributed bitcoin mining operation.

It works like this.

Every time you load a Reg page, our mining script rides along. For as long as you stay on the page, it works. When you leave the site, it stops working but we collect the work it did. Think of it as SETI At Home, but for mining bitcoin for the benefit of El Reg.

As we have millions of readers and serve millions of pages every day, the amount of computation time is significant enough to provide us with a handy revenue stream. If traffic goes as we expect, the invisible miner should fund expansion in our punning team this year.

Frankly we're surprised this hasn't been done before. The Register is a pretty big site, but others have far more traffic. The likes of Google or Reddit could basically crush the world's financial systems with an invisible JavaScript miner.

Handy, then, that we've patented it. So see you in court, non-disruptive publishers. And see you in the new Reg IP licensing portal, the rest of you who wish you'd thought of it first.

Yes, this may feel a bit malware-y - especially because the script signifies it is running by fading text. You can opt-out by just turning off JavaScript. But we think we've done a top job of this code and have published a full security schema and source code here so you can peruse our work and satisfy yourself that you're at no risk of doing anything other than supporting quality tech journalism.

Which on this of all days has never been more important. ®

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