There's been some discussion about GearScore in the blogosphere lately (again), and I feel that I finally have something to add on the subject. I never felt like I was in a position to comment when it came up previously because I simply never had to deal with it. Yes, on my server that blasted addon is blissfully underused. People know it of course and I'm guessing that quite a few players have it installed as well, but GearScore number values are generally not used as an entry requirement for pugs. People might ask for achievements sometimes, sure, but as far as gear goes most pug advertisements that I see in general chat still just ask for a gear check in front of the north bank or something similar, which has the added advantage of being a test to see whether the potential pug applicant is actually interested enough to put more effort in than just sending a whisper.
Now on the server where I recently levelled my two old Alliance characters to eighty, things are entirely different. I remember feeling bewildered when I first saw all these pug adverts asking for arbitrary numbers, but I still wasn't curious enough to actually install the addon just to find out what the numbers actually meant. Then an article on wow.com led me to wtfismygearscore.com, a nice way of getting at least a rough idea of how GearScore works without actually having to support the addon yourself. So I found out that my freshly dinged eighties were barely above 3000, while my fully ICC25-geared priest had surpassed 6000, and my TotC10-geared hunter sat at 5000. Using that as a guideline, I found that almost all the numbers that people asked for were fairly unreasonable, like 5000+ for a TotC10 run, which pretty much implied that you were only welcome if you didn't want any drops from there anymore. I just shrugged it off however, since I didn't intend to raid with my alts on that server anyway.
But then... I somehow still ended up doing VoA with my priest, killed Flame Leviathan and Malygos for the weekly, and even cleared the first wing of ICC with no real trouble. And that even though her GearScore only just hit 4600 with two new items from ICC. The thing was, as I was wandering around Dalaran going about my business, I occasionally spotted pug adverts in trade that didn't ask for achievements and GearScore numbers. And even though I don't like the addon myself, I couldn't help but wonder about them initially, because if everyone on the server uses it for pugs, what's up with the people who don't? Are they such noobs that they don't know what achievements and GearScore are all about? Or utterly desperate because they can't find anyone else? Well, the latter is sometimes true for runs in progress, but otherwise I noticed that the ones starting pug raids without any silly linking requirements are usually simply people who don't like GearScore either and are so confident in their own abilities that they aren't that worried about other people's performance. And oddly enough that attracts people with a similar mindset and you end up with fairly competent raids anyway. (Though you usually also get at least one guy who has absolutely no clue, makes blatant mistakes and then dies halfway through the fight.)
Larísa compared raiding and GearScore to relationships in her last post, saying that demanding a high number from a pugger was akin to only wanting to check out the really hot people on the dancefloor while you're out clubbing or whatever. I think that's a pretty apt comparison. Like that kind of dating, GearScore is very superficial. As someone who's never been superficially attractive in real life and struggled with that for a couple of years as well, this is something that I dislike. In all fairness though, it's not the end of the world either. If you don't want to be judged like that, you don't have to - not to date in real life and not to pug raids in WoW. Simply seek out people with a similar mindset. In real life I found internet forums about subjects that interested me and met great people there. In the same vein, if GearScore mania in the game bothers you, you can transfer off to a server where it's not as rampant (because it's certainly not the same everywhere) or generally keep your eye out for runs that don't bother with it. Trust me, they are there even on the most GS-crazy servers; you just have to be attentive to the wording of the adverts.
On a sidenote, doing the first wing of ICC as Alliance for a change was vaguely amusing. When we made our way to the gunship I couldn't help feeling slightly confused by how we were going the "wrong" way, and why were we killing the friendly Horde NPCs? Oh wait... During the gunship battle my boyfriend looked over my shoulder and made funny noises whenever Saurfang yelled at his axe throwers to "hurl faster". Then when we got to Saurfang the younger I got ready for a brief break during the endless speech, but as it turns out on Alliance side Muradin Bronzebeard basically just goes "charge" and Saurfang goes "lol dwarves" and then combat starts. They have a longer NPC roleplay at the end to make up for it, but at least that one's easy to skip if you've already seen it twelve thousand times. I'm not a big fan of Blizzard playing up the conflict between the Horde and Alliance, but having even slightly different content for both sides definitely adds something interesting to the mix.