The other day I got a chance to participate in an Utgarde Keep run with my shaman - as melee dps, which was rather surprising considering that she can heal too and healers generally seem to be in higher demand than damage dealers.
As it happens, I was pretty terribad. I ended up at the bottom of the dps metres at the end of the run, caused a wipe by butt-pulling Prince Keleseth while we were still fighting the group of trash mobs in front of him, and consistently failed to drop my totems, which the other shaman in the group rightfully admonished me about.
Now, all of those issues are things that I'm sure could be improved with time and some practice, but to be honest I'm not sure I want to; the run also served as a stark reminder of the fact that I don't enjoy the role of being melee dps. (That's in group situations, mind you - while soloing I don't really care how I kill things, and melee classes generally seem to have the advantage of being less squishy, but in groups... ugh.)
After thinking about it a little, I think my main issue is one of control. When I play a healer or ranged dps, I stand at the back and have an excellent overview of everything that's going on, making it easy to pick out my targets and decide on which abilities to use. When I'm tanking, I'm lacking that, and it can be quite hard to take note of everything that's happening while you're surrounded by a bunch of mobs and half a dozen aoe spells are going off at the same time, but at least I'm in charge: I get to decide when the chaos begins, I determine the kill order, and even if I'm not entirely sure what's happening all the time, as long as I can keep the mobs focused on me, it's all good.
As melee dps, I just feel hopelessly confused and dependent on others all the time. I'm supposed to be at the front, but not at the very front, because I have to let the tank go first. Once he's pulled I have to make sure to quickly close the distance between myself and the mobs, but as soon as I, the tank or the mob itself takes a single step in a random direction I'll get "your target is out of range" messages and have to reposition myself. At the same time I'm of course supposed to keep things like kill order, threat, my dps rotation and nasty melee-range effects like whirlwinds in mind - and that while I'm right in the middle of a big aoe fest and can't make out a damn thing that's happening.
So, remind me: people prefer this over other roles... why exactly?