Yes, Craig, and it’s often a case of the blind leading the blind. Often the most active and most helpful members on WA are quite new, and they get enthusiastic about interacting with other members and all helping each other out. So you get a bunch of enthusiastic newbies all giving each other advice even though they don’t really know what they’re talking about.
A few of the things that I really love about WA are the fact that you can connect and get help very easily. I also enjoy using their SiteRubix platform, it is very easy to build websites and I come from a Joomla background and I most likely won’t be going back. It is too simple and feature rich to use the website builder and all of the extra tools that one with it.
Now next, you’ll want to pick a WordPress theme from somewhere like ThemeForest, Elegant Themes or OptimizePress. This is the barebones design of your site, which you can then customize with your own branding, copy, and images. That being said, you don’t want to cheap out. It costs less than $100 to buy a theme that will make your website look professional (and you can upgrade to a completely custom design once you get the business going).
I also started an e-commerce retail site that I went with another company on and it ended up costing me thousands of dollars, held all the so-called training over the phone for 30 minutes that they rushed through, the only writing training instructions were very generic and general in terms. I am still with them since I had a year. I have 4 months to go and can’t wait to move my DNS over to WA! It is difficult to get questions answered and have to wait until whenever they got around to returning a call. They complete the basic website framework for you and it looks like someone still learning to be a designer did it! I paid monthly for hosting, which alone is as much as WA’s fee for everything, paid separate for social media marketing training, which was next to nothing. In general their training platform was the pits!
Many make claims to “keep digging”, your just a few blocks away and crap, and it’s enticing to see, but these days I steer away from the catchy dashboard headlines and money making attention articles that people post about. Not a minute after you mentioned Launch Jacking I had to look into it, and I read Jeff Lenney’s article. I actually can pin point a couple people who I can see doing this, and they are not the ones who have even tried out the product for themselves, or likely have an honest review, it’s just for the cash.
Find a profitable niche. Starting with your interests, write down as many niche ideas as you can. Think about topics people might search online. Ideas include passions (like surfing or body building), fears (like spiders or speaking in front of crowds) and problems (like getting out of debt). Do keyword research to see it others are interested in the topic. Find out if a domain name is available that matches the keyword 100 percent. 
3) Established members who have not yet achieved the success they want but have not yet woken up to the possibility that they are wasting their time, and they treat it like a paid version of Facebook, forever posting personal and motivational updates to fill their day so they can lie to themselves that they are actually doing something productive with their time.
The lessons can be useful to those just starting out, but I think that their service attracts a lot of misled buyers because of how easy they make it all seem. Sure, you could make some money in affiliate marketing if you follow their training and tutorials and put in an ungodly amount of work. I’m sure of this, but . . . most people who arrive at Wealthy Affiliate will be lucky if they make enough money to pay for their membership.
I only ask you this because you made the above comment “there is no way you can use their hosting platform and WordPress installer to set up a successful site. There may be sites which are doing well on their platform, but they were built 6-8 years ago and are well indexed by now. Removing this from the equation significantly lessens the value of their membership.”
Thanks for making an honest review, and one that I can full out respect. I’m a current member of WA, and I’ll be honest right from the start, it takes a TON of work. And I don’t mean the type of work that’s included in Making commissions, I mean all the amount of hours to dedicate to your blog, content, sharing it via social media, getting commented, and all the SEO elements. And that’s just the thing, you’re putting all the hard work in, pumping out sometimes 3 articles per week that are quality/quantity on what you know and are very well experienced with to not make a dollar amount in return. Am I supposed to get a couple dollars once every 6 months lol, like cmon right? Some people work at a different rate, and I’m one who’s busted my butt off for the last 9 1/2 months, churning out content with only analytics, small amount of Traffic to show for. I’m seeing the progress in all the “other ways” like getting to page 1 of bing and yahoo for search phrases and writing types of targeted post to attract buyers, and that it’s not about the money which I’m 100% on board, I’m here to help and make money second.
This review is right on the money. I know exactly what Craig is saying here because I’ve been in the online space for quite some time now ;). The information in WA is not incorrect, but as Craig said, the process is grossly oversimplified. This is probably intended to draw in newbies more easily. Look at it like this, each of those main steps probably have like 50-100 substeps, if not more, lol. You have to be disciplined, learn and absorb all the theory and apply it, but folks suffer too much from Get Rich Quick mentality and impatience online. Think about it, if it takes REAL work to build a regular bricks and mortar business, what makes you think it won’t take you work to build a business that just simply happens to based online? It is still all within the realm of this universe, law, and universal laws hold haha. Anyway, not meaning to be facetious. All else being equal, the best thing about an business that happens to be based online is the ability it has to SCALE! That’s where the real advantages come in IMHO. Best of luck to you all