I recently went into Ragefire Chasm with my boomkin and people were raging about the tank not keeping aggro (never mind the mage attacking everything and anything) - but the guy politely said that he was still learning to tank and would welcome help. The narky healer says that the tank should learn to tank elsewhere and not waste people's time by queueing as tank if he doesn't know how to do the job. o.O
I was lucky. I never had to deal with that. I had it easy, learning to tank long before we'd developed an obsession with optimization. Or playing correctly.
I learned to tank on a shaman. Yes you did read that correctly. Tanking on a shaman. Things were different back then. For one, we let shamans tank. Or a warlock, I did that once too. That didn't work quite as well. But at least one raid boss specifically required a warlock tank. Actually two. These days you can do it with a couple DKs. Or bring an arms warrior and a lot of DPS.
Back then rockbiter weapon was a flat DPS increase, which made it better than nothing, but always and completely worse than windfury, excluding purely theoretical situations where your auto-attack DPS was so slow that adding a small number was bigger than multiplying by a big number. It also had an aggro increase on it. Sort of like heroic strike or icy touch. Also, frost shock didn't have the aggro boost (does it still?), instead earth shock had it. Also earth shock was an interrupt.
So there I was running around places like scarlet monastery, shock this one, hit that one, shock that one, hit that other one, and so on. No one complained much. However the groups eventually got sick of my attempt to use the fury warrior in berserker stance as a tank, probably because it was stupid. But awesome!
Actually, I had a lot of leeway back then. No one complained at all the time in UBRS when I got myself killed so fast, and so quickly, over and over, until the res timer hit two minutes. These days that would be a flame festival and a group kick, rather than a bunch of people laughing at my repair bill. Ironically, I was using The Unstoppable Force. I didn't blame the tank, he didn't blame me, and the healer didn't complain. After that I learned to watch my aggro. This is why I adopted the "let them die if they pull aggro" strategy, because dammit, it worked!
I don't know for sure what created this environment, but a while back I posted this in The role of accessibility in increasing elitism.
His DPS sucks and he might not quite know what he's doing, but he'll learn eventually, because he has to. Ubermage isn't there to carry him. Ubermage also isn't there to flame him.
It was in this environment that I learned. I didn't get a lot of help. I didn't get a lot of grief either. I was either with other noobs or with alts of higher up players who knew exactly how awesome they were and had no need to put others down. Sure there were the bragging types, but they pulled themselves up rather than pushed those around them down. Their rising tide didn't sink our boats.
One theory I came up with was that the early community was saturated with former EQ players who had much different expectations in terms of player and community interaction.
My experience suggests that tanks will tend to be players who have been around for a while. Certainly BC was still a good time to learn, since even if paladins were making people want fast AoE runs, they weren't standard, so when I wasn't on my paladin, I didn't run into too many people expecting me to tank like one (though I tried to anyway). But even still, that would make the most forgiving time to learn years ago. That means that beside there likely being few new tanks (since it's an awful time to be one, especially a newbish one), the existing ones are old. No wonder they're burnt out, grouchy, and in more than a few cases, have the sort of elitism that can only come from far too much familiarity with a virtual world.