It's something I learned from my criminology class: An ex-convict will always be known as an ex-convict. They'll never be an ex-ex-convict. Unfortunately, labels are just one of those things that are difficult to get rid of. Here are a few of the things that will stir your reputation as a bad healer and what steps you can take to get rid of them.
Luckily, bad gear can be easily fixed.
Or can it?
How does one get invited to better instances in order to get better loot when his current gear isn't good enough for it? It takes two things: luck and hard work. You need to get lucky in the sense that somewhere out there, there is an intelligent raid leader who is willing to take a chance on you and your skills. You can increase your odds by investing the gold in getting the best enchants and gear possible. I'll check out assorted players and classes and find odd pieces of gear or augments. The classic mistake is players' investing green- or blue-quality gems in their epic gear.
Murphy's Law of World of Warcraft? Replacement gear will always drop for the item that you've invested the most enchants and gems on the day after you get it.
Solution: Find out where you can score some big upgrades from and take what you can get.
Of all the reasons to get labeled as a bad player, I find bad play to be the highest on the gross offenses list. I know that if I personally see a player die to a fire or get nailed by some other avoidable mechanic, the first thing that comes to my mind is that the player isn't good. Now granted, there could be any number of reasons as to why he got nailed by something really bad. It could be due to a faulty connection or a display glitch. It could also be a random occurence that doesn't typically happen.
Usually, the bad healer label gets applied if the healer is consistently bad. If there are zero to little signs of improvement, then something is wrong.
Solution: You know, the only answer to this is actually just improve. There is no surefire method for it. Some healers will learn from their mistakes after once or twice. For others, it takes a lot longer and that learning curve isn't fast enough. Not everyone has that kind of patience. The best thing I can advise here is to find out what difficulties you're having and fast. After that, talk to some people to find out what they do to counteract it. Do they move earlier? Do they stand at a certain spot? Figure out what it is and copy them. You can't go wrong emulating what people who are staying alive are doing.
You are only as effective as the machine and connection you raid on. A player on a 56k modem (it's like a phone-dialing device, for our younger viewers) is going to experience extremely different raiding conditions than someone on a DSL line. I've had players who were forced to play with computers that don't exactly hit the 100 FPS mark (or were lucky to even hit 10% of it). Healers might be okay during encounters where they just stand at a wall, but the moment their screen gets flooded with effects, the less likely the visuals will render in time. This means the healer isn't getting the updated information they need to heal, which in turn leads to delayed healing and spells cast.
Another thing I want to add that sort of fits here is player geography. I've raided with players from Taiwan who demonstrated better skills than domestic players. While ping and latency can mean the difference between the tank surviving or dying, it usually won't be that bad if players are on one coast playing on a server on the opposite coast in North America.
Solution: There's no easy way out on this one other than to spend some serious cash. Find out what the bottleneck in your computer is. It could be processor, RAM, video card or so fourth. If your PC does have big-time issues and it is one of the older variety, you might want to consider upgrading your computer overall. I remember years ago, I had a super-difficult time avoiding Lurker's Spout effect. It was because I was running at an awesome 7 FPS when the animation started. My temporary fix was to stand on the opposite end of where the Spout began to maximize the amount of time I had to dive in the water. After a few weeks, I gave up and invested in a better computer that could handle the abuse. Lurker never spouted me again after that day. If your troubles are due to a connection problem, you may just need to switch ISPs entirely. But do everything within your power to test and ensure it isn't something minor.
Numbers need to be critically examined before any kind of conclusion can be reached. I've seen cases where healers were accused of being terrible because their numbers were far too low
That's when I bellow into the microphone: It's because I'm a discipline priest, moron!
You can't always rely on that excuse, though. When interpreted properly, numbers are numbers and they don't really lie. If a healer is outhealed by a shadow priest, then something is definitely up. When checking out numbers, I don't usually look at the hard numbers. I try to think in terms of ranges. A person who is assigned to heal a certain job, specced a certain way, with certain gear should be able to heal within a certain amount. As it stands, most tanks can be kept alive with one healer during most bosses. There are a few special ones where extra healers become a necessity. Numbers don't always tell the entire story. Examining healing numbers is one of those things aspects where you really need to sit in their position and find out what they were thinking.
Solution: Cast more. Seriously. I don't mean that you should go out of mana all the time from chain-casting spells on targets that aren't taking damage. But that doesn't mean you should just sit there and let everyone else do the work. Sometimes I see healer inaction and rather than call them out on it, I'll slightly take over for a bit until I see they have things under control again. If you are casting the right spells and are doing your best, it could also be a gear problem. Better gear means stronger heals, and not everyone is going to start with Icecrown-quality stuff.
Want some more advice for working with the healers in your guild? Raid Rx has you covered with all there is to know! Need raid or guild healing advice? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter and you could see a future post addressing your question. Looking for less healer-centric raiding advice? Take a look at our raiding column, Ready Check.