. and I also know enough not to fight hand-to-hand (f-ing battle clerics and melee druids) when I need to monitor group health. (And, with all due respect to nukers, healer mana is far more important to being able to pull & fight/the pacing of fights...
Im'a Shammy and I get right in there and beat stuff down with the tankers. I know I'm not doing much with my wimply little staff, but I'll tell ya what I am doing: Keeping my offense and defense up. Next level, I'll be keeping my Dodge up as well.
I don't do it if I'm the designated healer very much, but it is important to keep those skills up. If you get into your late fifties, have a defense of 5 and a dodge of 15, you'll die a bit more and won't handle hits as well. It's worth getting this skills up.
I really don't get down on "Battle Clerics" and "Melee Druids" until post 20. As a 15th level Shaman, I can heal just as efficiantly as a Cleric, and with their plate armor - they've got better AC than I do.
However, once you can /surname, you had better sit that butt down and watch my life bar if you're the Cleric unless you have a reason for standing up.
Grouping with new players... don't shun it, do it! EQ isn't a race (although some seem to thing it is). Group with those players that are new, teach them the ropes if you know them. No where in the manual does it say:
If you're a Wizard, learn when to nuke. Don't build up aggro on the MoB or you'll move up the hate list and it will aggro you as opposed to the main tank.
Nor does it say:
Clerics, don't beat stuff down and overheal otherwise it will jump on you and kill you and they won't taunt it off of you.
Group with people that don't understand this stuff and explain it to them. Truthfully, it doesn't really matter until 18,19, or 20. Classes really start to shine at around 20. That's when you need to understand your role and fall into it.
Now... the fighting shaman.. I plan on keeping my skills way up so I can trade hits with my doggie once I hit 34. Part of the reason Shaman's can solo so well is that they can take a few hits, I intent to take a few hits =)
In short.. if you feel like soloing that's fine! I took my neco all the way up on the PC solo. If you want to group (and can stand it) don't be too picky. These are the people that will level along side of you. Those are the clerics that will keep you healed a year from now when we're taking down Cazic Thule or Innoruuk. Little tips that you can give these people will only help them to get better.
"Newbie groups" on the PC side always have folks that don't understand the game yet. But as those players progress, they get a lot better, and you'll come to rely on them later in the game.