So, I see a lot of pugs. I dislike leading them, as I know I am not a good raid leader; I have difficulty focusing on what the overall group is doing over what I need to be doing, myself. I'm also too nice to lead raids: I take too long considering options, I like to avoid conflict, and even my ML'ing can take ages as it gets sorted out to the "best" person with as few hard feelings as possible. I know my failings, so I don't raid lead. But, I also can see them in others, and know great raid leaders when I see them: I have a few on my friends list flagged as "good raid leader" so that I can catch up with them again.
Nefernet posted some excellent tips yesterday about pug raiding.
I have immense respect for anyone who has the patience and ability to lead a good pug through an instance that most puggers would just be carried through, and let's face it: most puggers for raids are puggers because they are either
- a) alts who may or may not know how to play their class, or
- b) mains who aren't in a strong raiding guild and may or may not know how to play their class.
This brings me to a rant: gear score, related gear-ranking mods and websites, and how the vast majority of the time, these are abused and taken to mean that gear is the end-all/be-all.
I have not yet been in a pug that requires a specific gear score or wow-heroes score, though my alliance druid did pass a gear inspection for a toc-10 normal that didn't make it off the ground for lack of healers. Frankly, I avoid pugs that require a gear score, even on my main. Ranking someone's ability to play based off of their gear is asinine.
- Well-geared players can have purchased gear using badges "earned" while being carried through a raid as baggage; they may've been dead in a corner somewhere and still be able to loot. Gear does not equal skill.
- Under-geared players may be alts or unguilded/non-raiding-guilded players who DO know their class, may've done the research and taken the time to know wtf they're doing. I have seen under-geared players in greens or blues out-perform players in 226/232 epics. I have DONE it, myself, on both my alts. Gear does not equal skill.
- Gear-checks that are really strict may only serve to guarantee that your puggers will have enough HP to maybe survive being dumb.
- Gear-checks that kick out half your healers, however, may be shooting yourself in the foot, because finding healers who are willing to pug is difficult, particularly if you're kicking some for wearing one or two i200 blues for an Ulduar or basic Sarth run. I can understand removing someone if they are a healer wearing strength gear, but really... don't mess with the healers if you want to actually get anywhere without the raid crumbling from sitting around waiting to fill healer spots.
- There are a good number of "raid leaders" who gear-check their invited puggers on standards that they themselves would not pass, apparently expecting to form a raid of "super players" who can carry their tail through a raid; if they seriously wished to pull the "gear is not skill" card in their own defense, then they have no excuse to be gear-checking everyone else they invite.
There are always limits, of course: one should not be wearing greens for the current cutting edge (currently ToC, later to be Icecrown Citadel) content unless the rest of the group is confident that they can make up for the slack in raw stats (which is difficult, but possible, in a pug). Seeing such things doesn't require a gearscore, though, just a cursory glance at the player's gear, even by staring at the models or questioning someone's rather low HP for their class (unbuffed stamina being a pretty steady indicator of relative gear level, taking cow-racials into account) , which can be done without grand gear-checking announcements.
I think a better pug-checking system would be a mod that queries interested puggers with a raiding-related question and rates their answer for keywords, or lets the raid-leader decide who to invite based upon answers to the questions. I'd be interested to see a mod made that can assist in sending out whispers and collecting replies, like an entry exam for the instance. Even if the puggers can google the answers, it at least means they took the time to do so. It'd have to rotate the questions through a series so that people don't share answers and ruin it for the leader... but it could be done.