In honor of the 2 year 4 month aniversary of Tim B's infamous How would Facebook Sysadmins prevent the summoning of Cthulhu?...


The Wikipedia Foundation1 today announced a groundbreaking partnership with The Bitcoin Foundation to become the first global distributor of information to accept donations in Bitcoins. The petition to accept Bitcoins begain with Wikipedia Contributor and Bitcoins founder Satoshi Nakamoto whose desire to continue the expansion of Wikipedia while protecting the anonymity of donors went without question.

To facilitate the new donation system, The Bitcoin Foundation worked closely with the Wikipedia Foundation to incorporate a protocol layer within the open source Bitcoin software to insure the privacy of donors and guaranteeing that even the transaction processing itself is so widely distributed that no government, intelligence agency, or corporation can identify the donor in any way.2

The Wikipedia Foundation is celebrating this partnership by inviting its cadre of millions of contributors to participate in a contest to develop the most compelling donation pitch.

This monumental undertaking, the first global mainstream acceptance of Bitcoin in history, is set to begin operation in one week, at midnight on December 25, 2019.

The consequence is that Wikipedia now has a piece of its own programming running on each of the untold millions of ASIC mining hardware assemblies and, more importantly, video GPUs on the planet — and with it, the ability to incorporate subliminal imagery onto the screens of nearly every Bitcoin miner planetwide.

And their first task is to brainwash more people to devote their GPUs to Bitcoin mining for the purpose of donating to Wikipedia. Today Bitcoins, tomorrow world domination. Not surprisingly, some smart aleck in the marketing department dubbed this the sexy sixty-six initiative.

Question: Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to advise the World Council on the most efficient method of avoiding what some are calling the most viable zombie apocalypse ever considered by living man.

Edit: Specifically, Wikipedia and Bitcoin are conspiring to use the GPUs already in use mining bitcoins to modify imagery displayed on user monitors to include visual subliminal messages that convince people to convince other people to use their GPUs for the same purpose. And so on, until they have taken over the world and turned everyone into their personal flying monkeys. How can we stop that in a week's time?

  1. The code on the GPUs is the principal problem as all that is concurrently used as an actual graphic card will influence anyone sitting before the connected monitor.

  2. The World Council is convinced that you have but one week for your implementation to work. After that, too many people will be brainwashed to stop the critical mass of world-wide devotion to their new masters.

  3. GPU racks and ASIC miners cannot be ignored as they harbor the code.

  4. Your solution cannot be interpretable as an act of war. For example, you could (theoretically) steal everyone's hardware, but you can't nuke cities. Nothing you do can be considered an act of aggression toward the citizens of any country.

  5. You do have access to government resources world-wide, so long as you don't violate condition #4.

1"Wikipedia" and "Bitcoin" are the trademarks of their respective foundations and the parody of this question is in no way intended to suggest any actual collusion or conspiracy between the two for the purpose of invoking a zombie apoclypse resulting in world domination by converting everyone into mindless Wikipedia donators and contributors who only use Bitcoins to pay for their goods and services to the detriment of their families, friends, and national sovereignty, despite viral Internet acceptance assuring the veracity of the claim, could possibly be true. I'd never tread on trademark rights in that way and assure you that I am not connected with any government that might desire to take control of either Wikipedia or Bitcoin {_insert photo of honest-looking face here_}.

2I realize that Bitcoin is naturally designed to do this and no additional coding would be required, but I needed a narrative way to express the distributed nature of the Wikipedia interface and it's a Hollywood tradition to have the narrator overexplain something in a barely related way to ensure the audience gets the necessary point.

  • $\begingroup$ I am surprised by the high ratio of negative-to-positive votes this question has received. Would anyone care to help me understand the disfavor? If the question is offensive, I'll delete it. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2018 at 3:07
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Although I do like the suprarealistic location of St. Petersburg, Florida, I have downvoted the question for the Dan-Brown-worthy phrase "open source Bitcoin operating system". (Hint: there is no such thing. I don't even understand what it could be.) GPUs cannot "broadcast" anything, subliminal or supraliminal. And the most computers which are used for mining cryptocurrencies live in hands-off data centers and don't have screens. Mining cryptocurrencies on a general-purpose desktop or laptop is an exercise in futility. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 27, 2018 at 10:42
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP, OK. Bitcoin is open-source by their own declaration. I changed "operating system" to "software." That makes the statement 100% factual (all due respect to Dan Brown). I changed "broadcast" to an expanation since GPUs are used to create the images we lovingly see on our monitors, so the practical suspension of disbelief is that they could be used to modify said images. Finally, there are a fair number of people in the world using their gaming graphics cards to mine bitcoin on the side. That they only represent 0.1% of the total is irrelevant. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2018 at 18:05
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And I'll be honest, this site over the last four months has taken a distinct turn away from fiction. It's slowy becoming a site that serves only to answer factual questions that would be suitable on any other SE site other than their fictitious context. To be blunt, since when is a question's reliance on suspension of disbelief cause to downvote? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2018 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ It's the flip side of the Gell-Mann amnesia effect. I am a sort of computer person by day, and therefore my capacity to suspend disbelief in IT-related subjects is severely limited. For people like me, the best IT-centric fiction is that written by real-life experts, such as Mark Russinovich's (yes he of Sysinternals fame) Zero Day and Rogue Code. (Highly recommended if you like detailed descriptions of debugging sessions...) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 27, 2018 at 19:19

6 Answers 6


Disincentive mining, the "Throwing-lots-of-money-at-a-problem" way

So a core part of how Bitcoin works is that for every coin mined, mining the next coin get that a tad bit harder. It takes quite a few coins mined to get a significant difference, which takes time, normally..
We however, have access to the world's resources. What needs to be done is a the construction of a massive farming facility, I'm talking real massive. Next, we fill up MAGMA (massive automated general mining area) with an absurd amount of mining equipment, and mine the bits out of Bitcoin.
A massive mining operation like that will take the fun and profitability away from home miners, and they will quit mining Bitcoins, stopping the spread of the apocalypse!

Bonus - Mining lots of Bitcoins can partially repay for this plan.


Short answer: The world domination plan Wikipedia devised is less of a threat and more of a Pinky & the Brain episode.

Long(er) answer: the entire plan seems to revolve around a few assumptions:

  1. bitcoin miners use GPU's
  2. People who mine bitcoin have the same miner connected to a screen.
  3. the bitcoin software can somehow control what appears on said screen.
  4. the new version mind control code will actually go undetected.
  5. the new version will actaully be used by all (or even some) of the miners.
  6. there are enough of those people to take over the world.

not one of this assumptions is actually true:

  1. Most bitcoin this day is mined with ASIC circuits, bitcoin GPU mining this days will never return the cost of electricity you put into it (unless you use an hacked machine but even then other cryptocurrencies would give you more profit as they don't have ASIC designed to mine them yet and\or where designed to be GPGPU mined) so for the most part people who wish to use their own PC GPU to mine cryptocurrencies do so with other coins.
  2. Most bitcoin miners are part of huge farms and are managed remotely (my source being an job interview I had with the company that runs the majority of said farms a couple of years ago), just like most servers in the world are headless (that means without a screen) the same goes for most miners.
  3. even with miners that are GPU based most run as background services which means that no matter what their coding is they will not be able control the display
  4. the bitcoin protocol is open source, good luck managing to hide that for longer then five minutes from the public, and once it's out people will refuse to use it.
  5. there are a lot of different miners, all written by different companies and people, even if the bitcoin organization release their own it won't automatically replace every other version around and good luck convincing every miner out there that your version is better then what they are already using.
  6. bitcoin may be a buzz word this days but how many people do you think are actively mining it? (hint: not as many as the buzz would have you believe).

The real question is why does Wikipedia needs to go about in such a round way? if all they need is to show a brainwashing message why not just include that subliminal message on the Wikipedia website? it will reach a lot more people (consider how many people you know that activly mine bitcoin vs how many people you know that visited Wikipedia last month)? why settle for such a smaller group of inital victims (miners vs wikipedians) with such a more complex distribution method (using a website designed to show content that requires a screen vs using a system that 99 times out of a 100 would be headless)?

As an advisor to the World Council I would tell them to simply gather evidence and put the idiots behind it to a fair trial, making the thing public will also ensure people will avoid said system like the plague (no one likes being brainwashed).

  • $\begingroup$ This may be a useful add to #6: It's estimated there's between 5000 and 100,000 miners out there. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Apr 30, 2018 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Even throwing out "how many people are mining bitcoin" you can stop at "how many people have a GPU"? It's not a very common piece of hardware, actually $\endgroup$
    – bendl
    Apr 30, 2018 at 16:29

Give everyone a free "ad-blocker"

If you don't like what people are seeing on their screens, prevent them from seeing that! As far as I can understand your question, there are images being placed on Wikipedia pages that subliminally inspire the people browsing the site to turn their computers into Bitcoin mines. The simple solution, therefore, is to block the images.

The only way I can imagine Wikipedia adding subliminal images is by adding more images, presumably with a characteristic bitmap that encodes the messaging. Similar to any other computer virus, you could scan for that bitmap sequence and prevent it from displaying at all. If you've read Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, this technique may sound familiar. If totally blocking the images is too harsh or unacceptably obvious, then perhaps you'd be able to write an algorithm to blur or pixelate the image to a degree where the messaging becomes ineffective.

Now, we've shown that it's possible to prevent this software from displaying things, all we need to do is get the blocking software to the world. The best way I can think of doing this is to wrap it in a ad-blocker software and provide it to everyone for free. This move might not even be that questionable. As the World Security Council, you can play off a lot of the frustration of the average user with the ads experience and market it as an anti-meddling campaign. It'd be a move designed to "improve the average human's experience with the internet and prevent meddling by malicious powers". Sounds good to me - I'd probably take them up on it.

If you'd like to be especially ironic, you could even pay people to take your ad-blocking software. Of course, you'd want to respect everyone's anonymity while doing that, so the best thing to pay them with would be... Bitcoin.


Here is a simple, back of the envelope calculation.

Wikipedia planned and executed this in 2016. Fortunately, we were pushing a Windows update. Just convince Apple to do the same. Good luck dealing with Linux, though.

Inspiration here. This is even more realistic, given that servers don’t run windows while computers do. Within moments most all computers block bitcoin mining on GPU.

  • $\begingroup$ I was similarly inspired by NotPetya in Ukraine $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2018 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ (1) Servers are computers. (2) There are many, many servers in the world running Windows. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 27, 2018 at 8:25
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling: While servers are indeed computers, the particular servers mining Bitcoin don't have their GPUs connected to screens, so that they cannot display "subliminal" images. In fact, most GPUs which are dedicated to mining cryptocurrencies cannot be connected to screens. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 27, 2018 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP As you correctly appear to imply, a cryptocurrency miner is not a server. I strongly suspect that most cryptocurrency miners today are ASICs, which don't run any operating system at all, rendering the whole discussion about Windows, Apple (Macintosh) and Linux moot... $\endgroup$
    – user
    Apr 27, 2018 at 12:36

Didn't The Pirate Bay try to do (essentially) this?

Oh yeah they did.

The Pirate Bay has added a Javascript-based bitcoin miner to its homepage, Torrent Freak wrote, causing some users to notice “that their CPU usage increased dramatically when they browsed certain Pirate Bay pages.”

The plugin, which is provided by Coinhive, puts users’ computers to work mining Monero, a cryptocurrency released in 2014.


They were found out pretty quick and putting a stop to it was trivial.

If you just want to block miners, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to block the network that The Pirate Bay is using. The bad news is that you’ll need to know the specific URL for other networks.


  • $\begingroup$ Please bear in mind, I'm trying to stop Wikipedia using Bitcoin to take over the world. They're using existing miners, people who have consented to this behavior. It's the subliminal messages broadcast through mining GPUs that are the principle problem. (Although the reference is great. I didn't know that.) $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2018 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ Based on what I can parse out of your question...bitcoin miners are the only people susceptible to the subliminal images, but their first task is to "get more people to mine bitcoin"? They can't. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2018 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ OK, why? The incident you refer to was centralized. Bitcoin is substantially decentralized (I set that condition in the question). So, since there isn't one simple website to block, why? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2018 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ No, my point was that your premise makes no sense: the only people you can influence are already miners. There's no way to convert more people to be miners. $\endgroup$ Apr 27, 2018 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ Huh? So I can't brainwash an existing miner to walk over to his friend's house, a friend that is not yet a miner, and convince that person that he should become a miner? That's pretty much the point of brainwashing, isn't it? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 27, 2018 at 19:12

I like Rick M's answer very much. I'd like to propose another solution that is quite inline with it.

When it comes to problem solving, money is like violence. In other words, if it doesn't solve your problem, is because you haven't used enough of it.

You do have access to government resources world-wide

Governments have a lot of money. Don't let any country tell you that they are in debt, get the politicians to empty their pockets and buy as much BC as you can, for whatever it costs.

Then sell it all for as cheap as possible.

Rinse and repeat. You will eventually cause a crash in the BC trade.

At the end of the day, BC is worth what it is worth... And if it is worth sand, there is no incentive for people to mine it. Then you can let would-be donors of CPU time to Wikipedia know that they are just spending electric energy for nothing, and people should quit this absurd idea.

Ch'Tullu's minions would have an easier time stealing people's CPU time if they could convince people that it would help find cures for diseases and stuff.

If you want to be a miser, for both BC and projects like folding you can also go straight to the servers which coordinate the global mining effort (such as Wikipedia's CDN). There is a very effective hacking technique which has been around for decades, and for which the white hat and black hat communities never figured out a protection. It is called rubber-hose cryptoanalysis and it is used by many police forces. Use it to get the passwords for Wikipedia and shut if off. Break its mining scheme while it is down. Blame it on 4Chan and you're all set.


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