After a conversation in guild chat last week it left me to believe one of two things. People really do not understand how this game is played or they are just to damn selfish to care how the game is played. I am lead to believe it is a little of both.
One member complained that "I keep having to hold back on my DPS because this tank can't hold aggro". I responded with my standard "That is part of being a good DPS, knowing when it is time to hold back". It was then that he and another member of the guild started getting into the bash the tank mode. They were quickly joined by two others.
Of course me being me had to take the other side of the argument. I was not going to play a part in the whole bash the tank conversation and tried to explain to them that their job as a DPS is not only to do the most damage but to do the most damage they can within the scope of your tanks abilities.
Two points I feel I need to make before I move on. Firstly, I have run with dozens of horrible tanks. So I am not defending horrible tanks. You can sneeze and pull off a horrible tank. Secondly, these where tanks in heroics we are talking about, there is no reason you should be complaining that you have to tone down to only 4K DPS. That is close to the amount that the entire group use to have when they were first getting these done with no problem.
You want to know how to tell if you are a good DPS?
Your job is to do as much DPS as theoretically possible in the encounter presented to you within the parameters given by the mechanics of the fight and those that surround you.
I am sure you commonly accept things such as Hunters doing less damage in heavy movement fights and healers having more work in heavy damage fights or a frost mage having unusually low DPS against a frost immune mob?
Something a good DPS will also accept is that not all tanks have the same level of skill and/or gear. So just like each fight has its cap to how much damage you can do (example, you do 10K on a tank and spank but only 7K on a heavy movement fight) each tank has a cap to how much threat they can handle. You adjust to those heavy movement fights and you should adjust to those different tanks. Just because you can do 10K does not mean you have to do 10K if you know it is going to pull threat from the tank.
Doing 9K is just fine if that is all the tank can handle you doing. If you do go and do 10K and pull the boss it will make the tanks job even harder, the healers job even harder, the melees job even harder and might even get you or someone else killed and in the worst case can cause a wipe.
A good DPS realizes their maximum potential over all and their maximum potential on a fight by fight basis. Those are two totally different things. Good DPS will never pull off a tank. (again, I must note that I am talking about tanks that know what they are doing, not those horrible tanks we have all run into. Spell power DKs FTW.)
After a dungeon or raid take a look at your end run recount and some of the things I am sure you never took the chance to look at to tell if you are a good DPS.
DPS - This should never matter.
Damage Done - You should be at or near the top.
Damage Taken - You should be at or near the bottom.
Deaths - You should be tied for the bottom. 0 or whatever number is how many wipes there were.
Dispells (if applicable) - You should be at or near the top.
Interrupts (if applicable) - You should be at or near the top.
Activity - Should be as close to 100% as possible.
DoT Uptime (if applicable) - Should be as close to 100% as possible.
CC Broken (if applicable) - Should be 0.
... even more ...
Do you notice how most of the things I suggest looking at are not actually related to damage done? The biggest ones a good DPS should take pride in are Damage Taken and Deaths. A good DPS should always be at the bottom in damage taken because they avoid damage that is avoidable and never pull mobs off the tank. This means the only damage they take is unavoidable damage or incidental damage once in a while. Personally my recount is a size that I see the top 7. In a 10 man raid I am never in the top 7 of damage taken. That means I am always 8th, 9th or 10th. Exactly where a ranged DPS should be.
Looking further then DPS and total damage you will see there is a lot more to doing good DPS then just putting up those fun big numbers. Pulling aggro really effects your DPS (damage per second) by turning it into DPS (deaths per second). Work within the parameters of the fight to do the best you can and accept the fact that one of those parameters you need to look at is a variable number generated by the tank also known as TPS (threat per second).
Once more, your job is to pull as much DPS as you can without pulling more TPS than the tank. Do that and the other huge numbers that no one ever looks at (except us raid leaders) like Damage Taken and Deaths will show the raid leaders of the world that you are indeed a good DPS.
Remember, a good DPS does not take damage, they only cause it. Unless you have a horrible tank or unavoidable damage only you can prevent yourself from taking damage. Try a little game that will help you up your game. Try to lead Damage Done and be last in Damage Taken on your next raid.
If you can be first in "done" and last in "taken", then, and only then, can you call yourself a Good DPS.