The question is, how can you assess a ruleset without trying it? I mean, that's a charge you've leveled at alan. He has limited table-top experience, and therefore his thoughts comparing rulesets are suspect?
Precisely. That's my problem with Alan's stance. Then again, you may be implying by the above that I have not tried 3e. Who says I haven't? I actually do own the 3e rules, I have played 3e, and I've even written a few adventures for 3e, because we wanted to attract people to Mystara. Writing for 3e gives you pretty good insight into the system, but the more I learned about it, the less I liked it. My initial skepticism did not go away. And at some point I have to acknowledge that 3e is just a bad system from where I'm sitting. It doesn't matter how much WOTC plug or how much people say it's wonderful and dandy - if I dislike it, then I have to admit that. That's what I did, and now I say why. I'm not saying people have to agree with me - I'm just described why I feel the way I do. If people then resort to direct or indirect trolling against my person rather than against my observations, then I don't exactly see that as support for their claims of 3e's quality...
For my part, I've always thought other factors were more important than ruleset. I had fun with Dungeons and Dragons and that fun has continued through every iteration. I liked the ideas behind 3rd edition. I still do. The sole problem is the whole thing regarding supplemental rule books. If 3rd edition weren't becoming so fat with extraneous material, I'd be perfectly happy with it.
Well, let me take a classic example that illustrates why I dislike 3e. Say I want to play a cleric. His father was a fisherman, so he lived by the sea, and he swam in the ocean almost every day. When he became older, he became a cleric with the god of the sea as his patron. As a cleric he put most of his ability into Wisdom, and only a little into Strength (+1 modifier).
Now the cleric goes on an adventure. One companion is a powerful half-orc warrior (Strength 18, possibly even higher), who comes from somewhere in the mountains. During the adventure, both the cleric and the warrior are thrown into a lake and have to swim to safety. The cleric has paid 4 skill points to max his skill, but since it's a cross-class skill for a cleric, he gets only to have 2 skill leves in it plus his +1 Strength modifier for a total of +3. The half-orc warrior has lived in the mountains all his life and never swam before, so he has no skill levels whatsoever. His strength gives him a massive +4 modifier, though, so he's actually a better swimmer than the cleric, who swam all his life...
Now, as if that isn't bad enough, after the adventure, both the cleric and the warrior advance to level two. They both agree that swimming was really useful and want to be better at it. The half-orc can take up to five skill levels now, if he has the skill points for it, pushing his modifier to a whopping +9 on every check, even though he only just began swimming for the first time a few days before. The cleric, however, still has to fight the cross-class and gets to spend only 1 measely skill point on swimming, and it doesn't even improve his modifier, because it'll end at +3½, which is still rounded down to +3.
Now, lots of people have told me that I can just change the rules. Sure I can, but that IS what the rules say, and it IS a hole in those rules, isn't it? It's not even a particularly extreme example, so why should I support rules that have such a gaping flaw in them?