Drama Mama Lisa: Scott Nofriends, I'm going to have to call you out here. If you're really an ICQ and IRC veteran, you'll remember the days when new participants in any group, forum, BB, or whatnot were expected to remain on mute for a good stretch of time. It was the mark of a n00b to jump into a community until you'd lurked long enough to observe the group's traffic patterns and expected etiquette. And while it sounds like you've been playing WoW for a while now, it doesn't sound as if you've watched and listened enough to catch what's already going on.
"Hey, guys! I'm finally here! Embrace me!" As you're finding out, being the new guy on the block isn't so interesting to other players right now. I'm sure you're a friendly dude and all that, but we've got a new expansion to tool around in. Serving as your training wheels probably isn't too high on anyone's list, and you're latching on to everyone you run into like a duck who's lost its mama.
What you need is a leveling guild, not a casual guild -- a small but key difference. If you're an EU player, I heartily recommend The Leveling Agony or its Horde cohorts, Dambusters. I have characters in several particularly friendly guilds, including Spectacular Death (Alliance PvE on Llane) and It came from the Blog (Horde PvE on Zangarmarsh). Check your realm forums (go to the official forums and scroll down to the realms section at the bottom) to find out who your local guilds are and what they're all about.
The important point is that you find your tribe. Look for players who enjoy the same content you're now playing -- people who love the leveling game and alts -- and people who get a kick out of helping and advising others. If you're far enough along by now that you're discovering a strong interest in a particular part of the game (battlegrounds, raiding, transmogrification, roleplaying -- whatever), then those are the players you need to seek out. Find the subset of players with whom you share common WoW interests.
One last tip: If you do decide to try a new guild, make the change with grace. You can still be friends with your former guildmates!
Drama Mama Robin: Scott Nofriends, I think Lisa was a little harsh on you about knowing better. When I used IRC and BBS's, I jumped right in with both feet if it was just a casual thing, and not some niche community where I was embarrassed about saying the wrong thing. I can see where you might think that "casual" = "assume everyone will be friendly and helpful."
However, she's absolutely right. You need to feel out the chat you've joined -- whether trade, guild or Vent -- before you jump in with questions. If no one else is asking for help or no one ever answers, you've joined the wrong guild or chat channel.
Lisa is also right about needing to join a leveling guild. If you play in the US region, I would like to second the recommendation for It came from the Blog [shameless plug]. We love to help and as long as you're not a beggar, drama queen or some other funsucker (and it sounds like you aren't), then we're fine with you jumping in with both feet and being friendly.
By the way, I really like that you are being considerate to your friend from the physical world because having a newbie friend constantly bombarding you with questions can be a bit trying when you're trying to explore new areas.
To answer your question: I don't think WoW denizens are any different from other online hangouts. But I bet you knew more about the rock bands when you were on their forums; it's your status as a newbie that's different, and that's what you need to fix. We have a lot of guides and other information here on WoW Insider, but there is far more out there. Going to the official forum for your class is a good place, or checking out the dungeon journal in game, or other sources that your friend can recommend. Read up and become more informed. It will help you be a good groupie and therefore make it easier to make more friends.
Good luck, and let us know what happens!
"I never thought of playing
WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with
Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.