This past weekend there was a popular article about The Pirate Bay using their visitors computers to mine cryptocurrency. They were using a service called Coin Hive on their site, it uses a javascript miner to mine Monero currency while users browsed the site. It happens seamless in the background, while just putting a little stress on the CPU as it processes hashes. This made the gears in my head start to turn a little bit. I finished my breakfast and went home to investigate this further and to see if I could hash out any possible uses. Then I had an idea!

Is this viable to fund open source?

Let me make it clear that I do not think a project can get 100% of their funding from their users mining, but I do think it has a chance to provide some of the funding for a project. With my gears turning, I played around with the code from Coin Hive a bit and found what I thought was a happy medium of hashes and performance. Then I installed the code on our site and forum and let it run for about 24 hours to see what kind of generation we got under our normal traffic. We made $1.24. Not a whole lot of money. But at the same time, we don’t get a ton of traffic either. Personally I considered it a success, sure, its not a lot of money, but it is something.

Having a proof of concept and some viability, it made me really want to try to test the theory in a different way. Merchants that run our software spend a lot of time in their back offices, sometimes they are just open, sometimes they are working on orders or products. What if we could harness that time to give back to our open source project? To keep everything above board, with a clear opt-in only strategy we decided not to release an update that had the Coin Hive miner in the core. I instead made a module, that is 100% optional to install in thirty bees, that will allow our users to give back and help support us if they choose.

About the module

The module is in the feed in the back office of thirty bees shops, and can be installed if you are a merchant that thinks thirty bees is awesome and you want to help the project along. Some quick facts about the module:

  • It is not used on the front of your site. It only affects users that are logged into the back office, not any of the front office customers.
  • The miner mines in the browser using javascript. It is NOT a server miner. So it will only mine when you are logged into your back office. It will not slow the server down or your site down in any way, it is 100% client side.
  • The module has settings in it where you can turn it on or off, and also choose how much CPU power you dedicate to mining. 

With all of that being said, I think a wide release would be an awesome opportunity to measure the viability of helping to fund our project. It lets users help thirty bees out, with no out of pocket costs.

To us open source software is about growth and innovation. Breaking the standard molds of funding a project for the long run is innovative. Sure, this could be a huge flop as well. No one could install the module and we could be stuck with $1.24. But is it really a loss? I personally do not think so.

But why not other ways?

There are actually a ton of ways we can try to fund thirty bees, why would we look into cryptocurrency mining? That is a valid question that needs to be asked. When I look around at the other platforms in our market space and take a hard look at them, it bothers me. There are several big players, with widely read blogs that are all but a huge advertisement. Thin content posts about “5 modules you need to buy from us to be successful” or “Signup with this partner service so we can make money”. There are several platforms whose blogs consist solely of material like that. That is not what I want us to be. I want people to want to read our blogs. I don’t want us to have to constantly market and advertise to our community. I want to provide good content that people want to read, that will help merchants grow their businesses.

At the same time I want to start a dialog with our community, with our supporters and the whole open source community about innovative ways to fund projects. I think there are ways out there we have not even considered that could make free software more viable. Ways that do not include a constant barrage of advertisements, that do not include selling user information (something we strictly will not do).

Now for the module

If you are using thirty bees, there is a new module in your back office this morning. It is called the Donation Miner. It looks like the image below in your module feed.

donation miner

If you want to support thirty bees by allowing your computer to mine cryptocurrency, install the module, then go to the configuration screen. The configuration screen looks like the image below.

donation miner settings

In the settings panel you can enable and disable the mining from the module. The module also lets you choose the number of threads to mine with and also allows you to set an idle time throttle as well. This way you can tune the settings to cause the least disruption to your work as possible. Remember, this module will not slow down your site or server.  It is only run on your local computer, so users will never experience any issues on your site.

View on GitHub

 

Love this idea? Hate this idea? Let us know below. We care what our users and supporters think!