Okay, let's get the silly, preface crap out of the way. World of Warcraft is just a game.
Wow, I said it. It's pretty true, too. It runs on your computer and everything.
But before you start quoting those words on your license to be retarded, there is something else to consider. World of Warcraft is also both a social medium and a group activity. Well, raiding is a group activity. As with any other group activity (sports, D&D sessions, etc.) a certain level of maturity must be brought to the table to ensure that you don't let your team mates down.
With this in mind, I bring you the DPS = Sacrifice way to improve your dps performance. Because "it's just a game" doesn't give you an excuse to suck.
I don't see this one mentioned very often, but there are times when I have personally felt that a slow system/game client can limit a person's DPS ceiling. Think about it. Every time the game stutters, you lose a few seconds where you could (and really should) be doing something.
Unfortunately, due the vast amount of computer configurations, I wouldn't really be able to list any specifics on improving your framerate. This type of improvement would take a bit of research on your part. Don't have the time? Make the time. DPS = Sacrifice.
I can provide you with a few of the following places to start:
-Disable unncessary Windows Services
-Update your hardware drivers to their latest versions
-Update Windows appropriately
-Turn off all unnecessary programs in the background (ICQ, MSN, browsers)
-Browse the tech support forums for system and game-related advice (Here and here are good places to start)
-Lower your video settings for raiding
Spec for Success:
I know I've said this before: If you want to be successful, do what successful people do. I suppose that doesn't mean that you have to get the 'most awesome cookie-cutter build EVAR,' but you should probably find a build that suits you that is pretty darn close. Alterations to your build should be adequately researched to determine if they suit your role and playstyle.
I'm always lounging around in my tank getup, so for those who need easy access, my build is here. For more in-depth discussions on your spec and class, I would recommend heading over to Elitist Jerks. Yeah, those guys are awesome.
This. Read it. 3.2 didn't change anything.
There are several ways to make a "gear progression list." I personally prefer to use the spreadsheets instead of word-of-mouth advice or the infamous 'eyeballing' method our resident retnoob employs. I used to swear by maxdps.com, but in the update-deprived weeks that followed 3.2, I found a tool I like more. The spreadsheet I use was here, but there were some... uh... issues, and the thread was locked. Hopefully, our buddy Landsoul will get things straightened out and that link will actually be useful in the near future.
Analyzing Your DPS:
Of course, all the gear lists in the world won't help you if you're not actually improving dps. Either use your combat log or recount to analyze your dps. This is the only way to ensure that what you are doing is correct, and that you are improving as a player.
I prefer to turn on combat logging and then use the WoW Meter Online client to upload my parse at the end of the night. I do this for two reasons:
1) It lets me record it for posterity, and allows me analyze my progress from week to week.
2) I'm not tempted to look at my dps during combat
The last one should find a way into your brain. I'd recommend a silver hammer, if necessary. DO. NOT. LOOK. AT. YOUR. DPS. DURING. A. FIGHT!
The reason for this is pretty simple. Unless you're a super genius (Chances are, you're not), staring at a flashy number is going to distract you from the task at hand. More importantly, if you're doing well, it could cause you to do something stupid. And for the uninitiated, when DPS does something stupid, they die. Tell me, class, how much dps does a dead person do?
Don't do it. It's bad DPS.
And there you have it. The unofficial compendium of ways to make you DPS just a little harder. Now press the buttons faster, I'm gonna make me a sammich.