Remember that Developers are only part of the MVP program

Although there is another discussion of the MVP program going on over at Roy Osherove’s blog and is continued elsewhere, this is a topic that I was thinking about before that all started.

While I was at Seattle, I found that a few of the developers who were new MVP’s didn’t fully comprehend the MVP program, though they were all deserving MVPs. I think that this has a lot to do with the fact that many of these developers are so used to their (our –if you are talking about .NET) community – within the blogs, at conferences like TechEd and PDC  – that I think this seemed to them as one more extension of that.

Having most of the developers in the same hotel didn’t help this situation I think.

So why am I saying that I don’t think some of them understand the program? Because of some of the things that I heard. For example, at the end of the summit – I was talking with an MVP and mentioned something about the TabletPC MVPs. I had to explain that some were developers, like Loren Heiny and some were more geared towards the end users, like Lora Heiny and Peter Rysavy. The response of this person I was talking to was “but they aren’t developers. How can they be MVPs?”. It wasn’t a criticism of Loren, Lora or Peter in anyway, only a misconception about the MVP program.

Another case in point was hearing someone say, upon meeting another MVP who has been an MVP for a LONG LONG time and very deservingly, too – that the long time MVP should not be an MVP. The person making the statement was using their own opinion of the other’s “level of expertise” as the reason. 

And I hear over and over comments about XBOX MVPs or FrontPage MVPs, etc. with respect to the fact that they don’t have the same merit as a developer.

All of this really bugs me. I am not saying that those who are expressing this lack of comprehension of the program don’t deserve to be MVPs – all of them do. But I think that there are a lot of people who really need to understand more fully what the program is all about.

I think it levels the playing field. It is not about being the smartest person in your field, though it is about being a very knowledgeable person in your field. But the community aspect of it is being forgotten. And many people have a hard time defining it. It used to be based on newsgroup participation, because that is something that can be counted. But now there are so many venues for participation, that Microsoft has redefined how they look for MVPs. And it is not just ONE thing.

Just as an example, I have very different levels of community involvement. I have never been a newsgroup person (well, only minimally) though I did spend an enormous amount of time answering questions on the aspadvice lists. Currently I am not spending a lot of time on those lists but I participate in the community heavily in other ways (my blog is only a small part of that). I became an MVP in June – before the big wave – and because of my lack of newsgroup participation, was very quiet about it. I wasn’t sure how the other MVP’s would react and I was sure that other people would make an assumption that it was because of X or Y, though in fact it was the combination of many things that drove my original MVP lead, Emily Freet, to pull me into the program.

But wait , now I sound like I am justifying my own MVP status, which is not where I meant to go with this.

I thought it was VERY cool to be among so many other types of MVPs. That is what we all had in common – that we were MVPs, regardless of our technologies. BUt that we all were the type of people who love what we do and like to help other people. Yeah, yeah – I’m sure there are some rolling -eyes, ‘get off the pulpit Pollyanna’. But sorry, that IS what the MVP program is all about. A willingness to take time out of your day to help others without expecting anything in return.

here from the MVP site:

  • Recognized: Microsoft MVPs are acknowledged by peers and also by Microsoft for their active participation in Microsoft technical communities around the globe.
  • Credible: Microsoft MVPs have demonstrated practical expertise providing the highest quality information and content.
  • Accessible: Microsoft MVPs are active technical community leaders sharing their experience with peers.

ok – now I have to go do something where I do get something in return – not just gratitude but some funding as well.

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