As a member since 2000, I can tell you that not only has this site helped me grow as a writer; it has also become a second home. First, I want to clear up a misconception. I've seen other reviews bashing the membership aspect, but I don't think those users understood the concept. Membership is free. Yes, you can purchase different levels for extra features. But at $10 for 3 months (or 1 year for $20), a basic membership is pretty darn affordable. We also have a couple of angel groups that can help out with the cost for those that need a little help. Not to mention the contests with memberships as prizes. I personally won a 1-year Premium membership. Twice.
Whether you enjoy writing for the fun of it, are looking to polish your skills before publishing, or just looking for something to read, I encourage you to give it a chance. In my 20 years, I've come across one unfriendly user. That's it. Our members and staff are always welcoming. There is literally something for everyone.