I could probably write thousands of words on how having them as a resource helped me and kept me informed of so much going on, and I am sure there are many that can do a more eloquent job doing so.
I was never great with statistics and theory. Calculus? Bwahaha, yeah, not my cuppa tea. Physics? Nope sorry. However, when I had a Physics professor in college that explained things with real world examples, I excelled. I aced that class like a boss. I have always understood things better when explained in context or with visual representations I could relate to. Show me a long drawn out formula for computing the center of gravity and I would scratch my head for a bit to figure it out. Show me a seesaw with a Bunny on one side and an Elephant on the other and suddenly it seems more obvious.
That is what WoW Insider did for me. The writers there took the data put out there, gave it some thought and talked about it in a way that made it feel like they were just hanging out with you sharing stories and their thoughts on what changes would mean. They were not tossing raw numbers or stat weights and sims, or telling you that you had to take certain talents or glyphs. They were talking to me like I was just another player, just like them, not some world ranked top raider telling me the way to play and what specific pieces of gear I must have. They treated me like a person.
I so hope that AOL either comes to their senses and even boosts the budget for Joystiq, or that they are able to continue elsewhere under a new brand. I wish all of the great writers present and past the best, and hope they are able to continue to do what they have for so long.