I like "some" of the articles. Ryan Jordan is a good writer and I really enjoyed his packrafting video that he just released. NO! I'm not one of his fan-boys, god help you all. His are not the only articles I have enjoyed. Overall, I wouldn't say that the articles are even a smidgen of the reason I am a paying member. After all, I'd have to agree that most of these articles produce research that is already available on the internet, for free.
Mainly, the Gear Swap selling option is the reason I am a member. UL backpacking is such a tight community and it is hard to sell this gear elsewhere without being hit for a large fee (ebay).
I have saved wayyyyy more than the $10 for a year membership buying and selling in gear swap (yes I used a 60% off promo code for my membership to get the $10 rate - still currently offered) . I know I can still "buy" without being a member but what will I do when my closet is overfilled? :)
I also come across a lot of members only PIF's that I have definitely had my hand in on a few occasions.
The membership is worth the $ in my opinion just for the website. Now, from my experience, the staff is delightful. At the end of the day, when I look at all that I have... I am happy to know my $ is being spent so these great people can enjoy buying/testing new gear or maintaining the website. I wouldn't even care if they were just using this money to live on without doing any research at all. They have built a great commodity and a close-knit group of kind people who all love similar things. We all share a passion for the outdoors and by becoming a member I know that I have learned a lifetime worth of information about survival and living more simple.