Unless something has changed recently, there is no completely free membership anymore. To post here, i had to pay 5 dollars. When i decided i wanted to just go ahead and get a year membership, i asked about getting that 5 dollars subtracted from the yearly membership cost. Just got silence, and i'm sure a few yearly and lifer members got a chuckle out of the attempt.
As a yearly member, i'm not too keen on the adds, but then again neither do i have strong feelings against them, especially not IF they are necessary to the maintenance of the site. Since i know barely anything about Ryan Jordan, BPL past, etc, etc i cannot comment on any of that.