I am not saying to be judgmental and vocal about it in party or raid, but just for your own personal comparisons. Can you judge the people you are grouped with by a glance?
Say you are doing the looking for raid and you are a hunter. You want to see how you are doing, you know on that fight the BM hunter is middle of the pack so that is where you expect to be. You see other hunters so you pick them out to compare yourself to and check their relative item level to help you judge how you are doing compare to others that play the same class as you as well as the entire raid as a whole.
When the fight is over, at a glance you look at the recount, and make some judgements. Yes, I know recount is not an ideal way to judge anything but for random content it can give you a feel for how you are doing when compared to others. Hence the question, judge by a glance.
You compare yourself to the mages and affliction locks that are supposed to be ruling the charts. You beat them, they have somewhat equal gear, would be be acceptable to consider them bad? Or would that mean you are just that good and they are doing fine but you are just playing above and beyond so to speak? Looking at the other hunters you see you were above them even if one had better gear that you. Does that mean they are bad or you are just better?
Then there is the little twist. They could be better than they seem but they were not trying because they did not feel they needed to. I understand that. I do not use prepots, flasks or food in the LFR, why waste it when it is not needed. Could they be trying to do badly on purpose? They might think LFR still works on the old rule that the worst players win gear and could be dogging it for that reason.
So every single one of us no matter what class we have played have looked at some number and judged someone when we did not know anything about them. We did not even know if they were trying. We did not know if this was an actual representative example of what they are capable of.
Once again, I am completely and totally against anyone calling someone out in party or raid unless there is real reason. A resto druid in agility gear, call them out sure. A resto druid with poor gear doing poorly, maybe they are just learning and gearing up, chill out and let them learn if it is not hurting the group. If they are hurting the group there is no need to say they suck, but you can say you need someone better to get by. You can't just see the bad numbers and judge by a glance in some cases if you think of it that way can you?
But back to the question, can you judge someone by a glance?
Is this an acceptable way to judge how you are doing yourself in a random setting being you never know the skill levels of the people you are playing with or if they are really even trying to do well. Like myself, if I prepotted, used a flask and food my numbers would be considerable better. Or when I run as DPS on my druid with some of my gear reforged for dodge and my stamina darkmoon trinket on, you really can't judge effectively when comparing yourself to me can you?
How should you handle that data when assessing your personal performance?
I say take it with a grain of salt. For every one person that actually tries in the LFR there are probably 5 like me that actually try but do not go the extra mile and another 5 that are just there for the free ride leaving 7 other DPS that could fit anywhere in between.
Last night when I ran the LFR, which tuesdays always have the better players doing it, I placed #1 or #2 on every single fight over them all. The person that I kept changing place with was another hunter from my guild. We are always #1 and #2 with the extremely rare mage that comes in and destroys us both. I look at it as, good, a mage is supposed to destroy us. But that begs the question, where are all the other classes and players that are supposed to destroy us?
Are we really playing that well or is everyone else playing that badly? Can I judge by a glance that I am doing great?
My fellow hunter keeps thinking that he is doing well and I tell him that he is doing great, the fact he is 3 item levels under me and can beat me on some fights shows he is doing well when compared to me at least because I know I am trying to do well but I stress he can not take how he is doing against others to mean he is doing "that' well.
I look over the logs quickly to pick out some things and I point out to him that he could have picked up roughly 5K DPS if he did not lose his serpent sting. It must have fell off and he did not apply it again. So while we finished #1 and #2 by a fair amount, #3 was 14K behind us, we both could have done better. I am ashamed to say I focus capped more than a few times which is a DPS loss and he dropped his serpent sting which is a loss.
If I were to judge us just by looking at those around us we would have appeared leaps and bounds better than everyone in the group and while that might appear true we would be remiss to think we were doing fine based on that alone. We could have both done much better if we made some adjustments, me capping and him losing his sting.
I noticed that from looking at the logs. I did not notice that from looking at how others did or looking at the dps or damage done numbers on recount. Logs will always be better for judging how you did. There is no way anyone can argue that.
What can we learn from who we are teamed with, that is the question. Not looking at logs or anything, can we learn anything from them?
I did sha yesterday on my hunter and beat another hunter on our server by 19K. He is usually considered one of the best hunters on our server, how he got that title I do not know but if you were to ask in open his name would come up quite often. So am I doing that much better than the 3rd best geared hunter on the server or was he dogging it? There is no way to really tell.
I think it might be nice to compare your numbers in random content and even pug content but I don't believe you can ever really judge a person by a glance. There are too many variables. Are they trying? Are they testing out new keybinds? Are they just learning how to use keybinds? Did their wireless mouse go bonkers and mess them up? Do they have a broken arm and are playing one handed? Are they just having one of those off days? Are they trying a new spec? Is this an alt? Did they see someone was doing better than them at the start and just suddenly stop trying?
I can't just say I am better than "one of the best hunters on my server" even if this is the third pug group I have been in with him in a little over a week and I beat him. I do not know him so I do not know if he is really even trying. Looking at the number might make me feel good but it doesn't mean I am doing good.
I don't think we can ever really judge anyone we see in a random because you never know if they are really trying. That is why I like to run with guild mates. I know they will try because that is the way I teach them to be. Always do your best even if your best is not required. It trains you to be better for when it really counts. We might not be great players but that does not mean we can not aspire to be great, or at least the best we can be, when we play.
Some people go into the LFR trying to be #1. I go into the LFR hoping there are 16 other DPS all better than me so I will have the pressure put on me forcing me to be better and step up my game. Sadly it seems to work the other way around in there, it seems to be that everyone accepts mediocrity and doing the least possible.
How can anyone get better if they can not see what other people are doing?
If all the hunters you see in the LFR are doing 40K and you do 40K you might think you are doing just fine and many people judge themselves that way. Well, I am doing what the other hunters are doing so I must not be doing badly, is the way they think. I don't believe that is the right way to be. Just because you are doing what others seem to be doing doesn't mean that is what your class should be doing.
One hunter in my guild ran a heroic the other day and asked in guild what does OP mean. I replied over powered and asked why. He said someone in the run he was in called him OP and he thought they were insulting him. I said no, it was a compliment. It meant that his DPS was fantastic. I also added, they probably do not see that many hunters doing well so they call you OP. His response? I am still not really doing my rotation all that well, not used to all these new buttons, I am not OP, I am learning. I laughed in guild chat and said, that is one of my hunters talking there. Keep up the good work. OP is good.
Why don't more people press others to be the best they can be?
Because they are judging people by a glance. You can not judge people by a glance. Just because I could be top DPS in the LFR with 50K doesn't mean I should only do 50K. If I can do 70K I should do 70K. I can't just see 50K and say, at a glance, I am doing fine because I am number 1. Nope.
So to answer my own question, no, you can not judge by a glance.
Enjoy those numbers, top healer, top DPS, it is all fine and dandy and fun to look at, but don't let that ever fool you, you can do better. You can not judge how you are doing based on random people around you because if you care about how you do you will usually be better than those people because most people do not care, at least it appears that way.