Since patch 3.0.8 came out, the phrase is appearing more and more frequently, specifically with regards to Hunter DPS output.
When I first started playing WoW, I never heard the term before, but over time, you infer from context that it means something along the lines of pursuing things that provide maximum results while avoiding just about everything else, and the connotation that came along with it is that a person trying to min/max is a d0uche bag who would slit their own mother's throat for a .3% crit increase.
Hearing the term so much lately, I actually looked it up, and hopefully I found the right entry because it has some really interesting background in games theory (if you're really interested in that sort of thing), although I bet most of the people throwing the term around have little to no exposure to the formal maths.
A class that primarily brings DPS to the table. Also some CC ability, some frenzy dispel, misdirection, yadda yadda yadda. But the chief reason we are in the raid is to provide DPS.
Long-Term Raid Invites Are Contingent Upon Performance
If bosses are not dying, raid leaders will investigate why.
If the analysis shows that the boss dies due to lack of damage output (enrage timer reached, too many of Sarth's i-kill-you-now effects occur cuz you dont kill shadron fast enough, etc), then the performance of the DPS players will be called into question.
Damage meters, web stats reports, and whatever other tools, will illustrate trends.
If you are a DPS player, with a primary goal of providing enough damage to kill the boss, and with no other roles you can spec or gear into, what trend would you like the analysis tools to illustrate?
The general consensus is that DPS players would like to be at or near the top of the damage production spectrum.
Meter-topping ego-stroking epeen is one thing.
Happily sitting below the top, but within a tight pack of well-performing DPS players is another.
Competing with the tanks for last place is yet a third.
Making choices that influence DPS by 20-40% shall not be dubbed "minmaxing"
Situation A: you are consistently second on the damage meter for your raid, and the #1 guy is consistently 100 DPS above you. You love your professions so you keep them where they are (tailoring hunter, ftw), you adore your spec as it fits your personality/style and the RP story of your toon, and you refuse to equip a gun because the noise is annoying.
Situation B: you are consistently second on the damage meter for your raid, and the #1 guy is consistently 100 DPS above you. So you drop Herbalism, a profession you really enjoy, and take up Leatherworking, which you find to be boring as hell, because LW gives you a fur lining to your bracers that increases your damage output by 10 or 20 DPS.
Situation C: you were consistently producing >5K DPS on Patchwerk, and at or near the top of a very strong DPS team that's knocking on the doorstep of the Quickwerk achievement (3 more seconds is all we need to shave). Blizzard rho-sham-bows you square in the bean bag and you find your old spec and techniques to be producing 40% less, making it tough to distinguish your damage meter line from that of a resto druid with no offensive spells on her action bars, just using thorns and pulling healer aggro. So you drop your preferred and comfortable spec and techniques, adopt a new routine, and write a new chapter in the RP story of your toon's life to justify the change, because said changes bring your output back to nearly the same level it was before the crotch kick.
Are any of those players min/maxing?
Are any of those players a slacker?
Are any of those players a wh0re?
and, No, but if player C could get paid for it, I...er...i mean...he/she...most certainly would.
Its not even close
I'm hugely amused at the conversation in BRK's comment threads reflecting on the 3.0.8 changes. So many die-hards of a given spec call people who migrate to another spec a "minmaxer" and use the phrase as an almost derogatory term.
If the difference between SV and BM was even vaguely close, I'd be willing to stipulate that the immigrants are min/maxing.
But its not even close.
Both the theorycrafters (who min/max, and I love them for it) and practical experience agree.
Its not even close.