Let's be honest: Death Knights get a bad rap. We're a popular class because we're new and easy to level. Everyone has one, whether they've put any effort into learning to play it or not. Anyone who managed to faceroll another class to level 55 can roll one and just push the "I Win" button through Outland and much of Northrend. Heck, when I was leveling Dariahn I made a point to keep pushing to areas at least 1 if not 2 levels above me for maximum XP because I could get away with it. We're exhilaratingly overpowered when leveling. The playing field levels out at 80, but at that point we've only had 25 levels to get the hang of some fairly complicated class mechanics. It's no wonder the ones who have learned how to play have so much to prove!
Since the implementation of the random PuG system, I've heard a lot of complaints. Some come from my boyfriend, who is valiantly trying to level a resto druid through the last part of the 60s through random PuGs. Some come from friends in general. Some come from the wow_ladies community over on LiveJournal, who were kind enough to share their anecdotes with me. So here's some advice from one Ebon Blade to another on How Not to PuG:
1. Don't queue as a tank just because you can.
This is the biggest complaint I hear: Death Knights queuing to tank just because that little checkmark next to the shield icon is clickible, with no idea how to actually do it or gear for the role. This is especially bad because, due to the relative number of tanks vs DPS, if you checkmark that shield and then queue up, you will be tanking. Do not queue up as a tank and then show up on the dungeon doorstep asking who's tanking. Surprise! It's you!
This is not to discourage people who genuinely want to tank! If you're familiar with the basic concepts of tanking and you want to give it a try, go for it! Pop into Frost Presence, put down your D&D, and have fun! But, especially in anything harder than Hellfire Ramparts, you want to make sure you're geared for it. Don't show up in a level 80 Heroic with two pieces of tanking armor thinking you'll be fine. Tanking is srs bsns! Make sure you're capable of doing it before queuing as a tank, I do not care how much shorter the wait is. See also #4 below.
2. If you're not tanking, don't tank.
Okay, so let's say you followed #1 there, determined that you are in no shape to tank an instance, and signed up as DPS. So don't tank. That means do not pull, do not initiate boss fights, do not use Frost Presence, do not put down Death and Decay unless you know the tank has established a firm grasp on all the mobs. Do not drop Death and Decay on top of CCed mobs. Do not use Death Grip unless absolutely necessary, such as to pull a caster back to the tank or to save a healer from a stray. Using Death Grip to pull something off the tank because you are level 60 and still think Death Grip is hilarious does not fall under "absolutely necessary". Along those same lines...
3. Army of the Dead is a Sometimes Ability.
This could go under one of the other headers, but it's come up so many times it clearly needs a section to itself, possibly with blinking sparkle-text. Blizzard had the grace to make nearly all raid bosses immune to their taunts, but I can count on one hand the number of situations you will encounter in 5-man instances where it's okay to use Army of the Dead. Think before you use it! They will taunt bosses off the tank, which can quickly wipe the group if the boss needs to be tanked in a certain position, and they will pull extra adds in trash pulls. Never, ever use Army of the Dead without checking with the group to see if it is okay. It very rarely is.
4. Learn to play your class before you queue up.
The middle of an instance is not the right time to go, "Hmm, what does THIS button do?" Before you subject other people to your totally awesome new Death Knight, go read up on the basics - or heck, just read your tooltips! Learn basics such as what presence you want to be in for your role and whether you need Spell Power (Spoiler Alert: You don't.) before an unfortunate group of random strangers who have been playing their classes for 60 levels as opposed to your 5 have to teach you. Learn what kind of stats you need to tank so you can follow #1. Know the defense cap before you queue as a tank for a Heroic.
5. Don't be a dick.
This goes for any class. Don't post Recount to show everyone how awesome you are three pulls in. (As of this posting it's broken in cross-server instances anyway.) If the casters need mana, let them drink. If the tank assigns a kill order, follow it. When running lower-level instances, remember that not all classes are as OP as we are and be mindful of your threat if DPSing. That warrior who's tanking Ramparts for you was not handed a full set of blues on an ebon platter at level 58. So long as the job is getting done, don't give unsolicited advice to your PuGmates, especially the DPS. Someone's DPS is way too low? Are the mobs still getting killed? Then hush. You were a new 80 once too. The defense-capped but blue-wearing tank is taking damage just fine but can't keep up with your full-T9 DPS? Throttle back and remember that everyone has to start somewhere. The important thing is that you finish the instance, not that you show random people you may never see again how big your epeen is. Be excellent to each other.
So with all that in mind, go forth, PuG, rack up the sweet XP or badges, and give people a good Death Knight story for once!