To answer Ian's question from a few days back, I am going to cover how I "attempt" to get/keep farmers. Note the attempt part. The reason I use that word is that I don't know many folks that keep them for an extended period of time. Why?
* Farmers transfer servers
* Farmers find someone that pays better than you
* Farmers quit farming
* Farmers forget about you
I am sure there are more, but these are the top reasons to "lose" them. Of course, we all know that there are bots in this game. Although I am not sure of exact numbers, I can safely figure that there are quite a few that are in game....Bots work in mysterious ways. From seeing plenty around over the years, and from talking with folks that do, I have a few numbers for you "from their side of the world":
I would guess around 20% of bots toss the "farmable mats" in the Auction House (i.e herbs and ore) that probably another 20% get sold in /trade, and the rest are used by one of the farmers' other toons, sold in their guild, or shuffled through other accounts and "burned up" (either prospected or milled).
Let's look at a few different ways to pick one up.....
*There is the /who in a farming area (twilight highlands, uldum, etc.), then send a tell. If they are botting, they are probably afk and won't answer you, or they are a "human" farmer and they are doing it to relax (and don't want to be bothered). I don't recommend this one....
*There is the "spam trade" to find one, which is another I don't advise, but might work. You can use a macro for this, but if you think spamming Mysterious Fortune Cards is boring, you will really hate this. And others will hate you too. People will block you, report you, or just plain out ignore you. Once again, not my cup of tea.
*The Auction House.....When you see someone with 50 stacks in the AH, as you are buying them, send them a tell offering THE SAME PRICE YOU ARE BUYING THEM AT. Don't try to lowball, as they have a reason for farming. To make gold. If you are buying them for 40g per stack, and you buy them at 40 from the AH, you are paying 40g for them. Offer them to COD or to "friends list" you (and you add them too, with a comment of what mats they sold, the price % of AH, and date), or even to sell in person at the 40g. Please tell them the actual amount you are looking for too. If you ask for COD's and turn half of them down, you will lose your new pal quicker than you can say COD. Make sure you have the gold to pay them. No matter if they COD 10 stacks, 100 stacks, or 1000 stacks, make sure you have the gold to pay. And don't make them wait. As soon as you see a COD in your mailbox, BUY IT. Don't tell me "I don't have room". Bullshizzle. You do. Just pay the full COD, you take one stack. Do that with each and every stack. They have their gold, they are happy, and you have a "mini bank" in the mailbox to hold your purchase until you have room. *Make sure when opening the stacks in each mail that you don't hit CTRL and click, as you will send em right back to them....I know from experience on that one....the CTRL key and SHIFT key are pretty close to each other....
*Use the best option. /2. When you see someone in trade chat saying "WTS [Cinderbloom] 40g [Stormvine] 35g" You likely have yourself a farmer. I send a tell, saying "will buy all you have, invite". Purchase all they have. If you are looking for a farmer, make sure you have gold. Not on another toon, where you have to make them wait, but on the toon you are on right now. If you say "I will pay 35 for cinderbloom, and 30 for stormvine", you are losing out. My guess is if you see that tell, that price is less than AH, and to show "face" with them, don't try "dickering" the price down. Yet.....
Ok. You have picked up a farmer for your herbs now. Anytime I find a new farmer, I always /inspect them, and see what gear they are wearing. For the main fact that I like to "gift" them. They are giving you a good deal on items, and you want to return the favor....Another thing that I do to EVERY farmer that I buy from, whether it's a one time deal or a consistent seller, I send an in game mail to them afterword (normally a day) and toss them 100g, with a letter saying "Thanks, keep them coming!", or if they don't speakie da englash, then "More, More, More!" or something to that effect. This is one of the ways to keep one, or to get one excited to continue the friendship and transactions.
Hope this helps you getting and keeping a farmer. If you skimmed through this post and are only reading this part, I will hit on the most important part of the whole post: Be good to your farmer, and they will be good to you!