There’s a really good post over at Spinksville talking about optimization of characters in MMOs (and how Spinks doesn’t want it.) Be sure to check out the comments on it as well, they are quite worth the time.
Personally, I like some optimization in my games (which should be abundantly clear from my posts in the past) but I do agree that the optimization system found in World of Warcraft (and WoW-ish games) is neither optimal nor fun. I really enjoyed tweaking character builds for Ragnarok Online way back when which did not offer any sort of respec functionality. The same was true for Diablo 2 in some respect (though that was not an MMO.)
I could sit down with a spreadsheet for hours to figure out stuff and then have a lot of fun trying those builds out for real in the games. Now I am not saying that respecs are a bad thing. Repeated levelling of the same character class to try out different builds is not a recipe for fun. The fun was derived from a large pool of options and a limited pool of available information.
I know I said that I wanted more information not long ago, but it is simply a matter of the complexity of the game compared to the amount of available information. If there is a “best build” and a best stat to get and those are readily available for everyone to read about on the internet then things become boring. If there is info on the general inner workings of the game though, but no best build as such then it can be a lot of fun to tinker with stats and specs. For people like me.