I agree, mandatory subscription forums are useless, because they exclude so many people. But letting people who pay have different access to the same content, and still allowing those who don't pay to participate, sounds fair to me. Some people may not be bothered by the embedded links, but I found them very distracting.
I subscribe at geocaching.com, and they have some bonus features for members, but non-members can use the site and play the game without missing much. I mostly do it to support the site. I would be glad to do the same thing here. Geocahcing uses paypal to do the subscriptions, and every year it yanks my fees out of my paypal account, pretty much without bothering me at all. I think it's pretty slick, and I don't forget my annual dues.