What exactly does it do? i tried one and i liked what it did, but it confuses me. Also, whats the difference between that pedal, and the ... noise gate pedal by boss? and finally, i fail at using wah pedals. i think. cuz when i tried one, it didnt sound anything like i thought it should lol it made the tone sound muffled, to be honest.
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A compressor makes all waves in a signal path to roughly the same height. That means that it makes all the sounds that go into it come out basically the same volume. As a result, it cuts dynamics, but adds tons of sustain. Noise gate simply reduces feedback and extra fuzz in a signal as a result of OD pedals and poor cables, etc.
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it controls the volume of the signal so the peaks are not as dynamic. this means the volume of hard attacks of the guitar won't be as loud as normal, this means that the softer sounds will be more noticeable.

noise gates stop signals coming through unless they're louder than a certain point. so it kind of acts like a way to stop unwanted feedback or noise whilst not playing.
ok. so... neither of them are actually pedals you'd want to have turned on all the time then? are they technically worth the money? not that id run out and buy them tomorrow, anyway. im just curious.
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Yes... they are pedals you want on all the time, depending on the sound you want...

You pretty much NEED a noise gate for high gain, or if you have a noisy pedal, or a few pedals in a chain.

The compressor is very useful for solo's as a sustain boost and making a much smoother sound, and also smooths out rhythm chords too...
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the boss comp/sustainer also has a a boost in it for the sustain....i have one...i like it...but a compressor and a noise surpressor go hand in hand....most compressors are pretty noisey.

good luck