I have a very different background. My background is in MMOs, not MMORPGs, though I'm moving into MMORPG territory.
2003 -- beta tester for Uru, online MMO, created by the developers of Myst. Beta tester, player and volunteer forum moderator for two publishers, Ubisoft and Gametap, and the developer, Cyan. Uru was cancelled and resurrected 3 times. Currently Uru is up again. Cyan, the developer is running a server, and Cyan is working on an open source agreement (like Ryzom, but the specifics of the open source agreement are different). I still play some, not a forum mod anymore. I'm looking forward to when open source Uru happens and we get fan run servers and all the fan content
The Uru communities (intersecting sets of communities) are tight -- kind of like guilds in MMORPG terms, but more intersecting and overlapping spheres, and not so structured. When Uru was cancelled, the first time, I followed people into There (sadly, There was cancelled) and Second Life. I'm also thinking about Blue Mars. Some Uru folks are also talking about moving to an Open Sim world. The key thing here is in creating virtual worlds, also community.
I play Guild Wars -- not sure how long I've played, several years -- wanted to play something more MMORPGish for a long time (yes, yes, I know, all of that GW instancing, not a "true" MMORPG). I really like it, magician/healer type, and I have a great Guild and Alliance. I'm thinking about GW 2
I've also dabbled in LOTRO (have a lifetime subscription, don't ask), but I don't play it much, because, well, I know the story. Also tried, for a tiny bit, WoW, EQ2, Runes of Magic, and Free Realms. Played in the Allod beta a little bit, also the Aion beta. Would like to try DDO, and if I ever have time, would like to continue with Runes of Magic and Free Realms.
After getting some experience in GW, I'm looking for a new MMORPG. I like Telara a lot, from what I'm seen -- persistent world goodness, a world story, personal story, good lore, and the spontaneity of the Rifts. I love the concept of the Rifts, being able to just jump in with other people and play. I do hope that Telara gets all the community goodies I like -- guild halls and areas, events, ways to build community, along with great gameplay, a huge beautiful world, and housing! Also a game I can play sort of casually, but you knew that already. If this game can appeal to someone who is not what you would call "old school" (nothing wrong with that, I love reading about your old school adventures) -- that would be great!