In my vanilla WoW raiding days, our 40-man raids had specific numbers of raid spots designated for specific classes fulfilling specific roles. The class raid leaders (who were not always the same as the class officers) managed their invitee and standby lists, and kept tabs on how everyone was performing. My druids and I sat in our own Vent channel (only raid officers and the RL could talk to each other and over the whole raid), and had our own chat channel. We built comraderie while also having a solid sounding board for trouble shooting how our class and role should be handling any given encounter.
Fast Forward to Burning Crusade with its smaller raids. All of a sudden, many guilds, including mine, decided there really wasn't a need for class officers any more, since raid sizes were so much smaller, and we didn't always have multiples of each class/role. The emphasis moved to having raid leaders and then folks in charge of each functional area (tanking, healing, DPS) at the most. And thus, for many guilds, the class officer died out comleteely.
Given that Cataclysm may well sound the death knell for many guilds running 25-man raids, I can see how a call for a return to class officers may sound like craziness. But hear me out. There are some very solid reasons to consider having them -- even if they aren't max rank officers.
- No one is an expert on every class and role.
That's right, mister hotshot raid leader, I am talking to you. It's infuriating when you are told to do something your class shouldn't (or worse yet can not) do. Or to watch the RL keep handing the dispells/decurses to the same class over and over again, while two or three more who could do it, stand by, not saying a peep. Class leaders know what their folks can (and should) be doing, and can feed the RL that information discretely. In a free-for-all situation, the raid leader doesn't always know whose advice to follow.
- Sometimes, players need tips on how to improve.
I'm the type of person who goes out and finds great resources on the classes I'm playing and tries to maximize what I do and how I do it. Not everyone does this. And further, you can't expect them to. But you can ask your Officers to provide coaching and feedback in these cases. And feedback comes across as a lot more genune and useful when it's coming from someone who also excels in their class and role. No offense, but if a melee player starts telling me how to play my spellcasters, if they are lucky, I tune them out. If I've had it already, they'll get an earful.
- No one wants unsolicited advice.
That's right, no one. Yeah, maybe you've gotten a helpful hint or two from someone that you didn't ask for that really helped, but most of the time, it's annoying. The unsolicited advice typically comes across as someone 1) thinking you suck and 2) trying to tell you they know better than you as to how to play. Having class leader officers tells the guild: these are our experts, and they are your go to resource for help, and are expected to know how to maximize their class in raids. This takes a lot of the sting out of the advice.
If you are pursuing 25-man raids, and have several dozen active players, why not ask them if they'd like to have class leads or class officers? Those who are nominated by their peers will feel appreciated for being called out for excellence, and your quieter members of the guild will feel empowered to approach them for advice. Even if implemented in a more honorary than powerful role, class leaders have the ability to build a sense of community amongst players, while recognizing some of your best players for doing a great job, which may even help with guild retention.