These days ultralight isn't so much a niche. Its pretty standard practice for experienced backpackers, even those who like heavy packs at least understand the philosophy and techniques behind ultralight backpacking, they just have different priorities.
That means that any backpacking site these days is a source for discussing UL.
The days when you would be flamed for being reckless for using a tarp are long gone.
To add to the problem, many,many really good blogs are out who do in depth reviews of new gear and post trip reports.
How does BPL compete with that? I renewed after a few years of not paying with the hope that things are going to improve and it would be worth it, but I don't see any change. The articles I missed, while good and all had nothing really new to say. With the exception of the more scientific articles, but then they weren't really that relevant to me because I don't use gas stoves and I could argue its not enough to justify yearly renewals.
I remember when it was a real paper magazine and since going online over time the articles became less and less and the reviews trickle in. Again how does that compare to the many blogs I can read for free and see the newest gear reviewed soon after they go on the market?
for me the forums are where the real content is. Many current non paying members put more money into this site than many Mlife members and have been sharing (and arguing) on this site since the beginning. the subscription is supposed to be for the articles, but what if they no longer interest me enough to pay? What if the reviews are far too few and far between and can't keep up with free blogs?
How much money and discussion does one need to put into this site to be considered a legitimate member? An Mlife membership is less money than 5 yearly subscriptions, so why are they not freeloaders? If one puts 99.00$ into the site they get more privilege than one who puts 200.00$ into it. Not to mention that many current members calling others freeloaders where not even here in the beginning when this site needed people the most and those freeloaders helped make this site what it is.
It should be made clear, if current members feel non paying posters are leeches they should close the forums to the public. Problem solved. Maybe there should be vote?