In defense of the MVP program

Some of you may have read Joel’s  recent blog posting regarding the MVP program in general, and it appears, the SharePoint MVP program specifically.  While some of the point raised may be valid I do not think they tell the entire story.  I am not sure if this will help or hurt but I felt like I needed to write something.


First a little background for those who do not know me.  I am proud to have been one of the first SharePoint MVPs and kept my MVP award until last year when I joined Microsoft.  I have left Microsoft and who knows what the future will hold.  In any case I feel that this gives me insight into the program from both sides of the fence.


1. The magic around becoming an MVP is too good ol’ boy – Since MVPs are responsible for recognizing and nominating, recognizing, and seeking out people for the Award….


This is not entirely true.  MVPs may nominate people for the award but they do not actually determine who will become MVPs.  When I was an MVP our lead asked our opinions of people if she was not familiar with them.  That only makes sense since MVPs are the ones that are in the communities and will have an idea of who people are.  However I have not heard of anyone getting an award just because they were nominated by other MVPs.


2. If you want to be one careful how you ask or you will NOT be one…


Again, while the the case used may actually be true, the cases I have seen are people whose only goal is to become a MVP and it was obvious that this was the only reason they were doing what they were doing.


3. If you loose your MVP it’s like you are shunned… 


This is one that can absolutely state is not the case.  I still talk to other MVPs…at least the ones I talked to while I was a MVP. [:)]   Granted, there is a decrease in the amount of communication since a large portion was done in the DL (more on that later) but I have never felt that any MVP thought less of me because I was no longer a MVP.


4. MVP social exclusivity…


Not sure what is meant by this.  Is it the MVP summit or the fact that large events often have a MVP social gathering associated with them?   I have not been to any large conference other than the summit so I have not comment on this one.


5. Politics are often personal…


I have not heard of this occuring so I have no comment on it.


6. Bow down to the power of the DL…


All I can say is that before the DL (and I am refering to the SharePoint MVP DL, I do not know of any other DL) the MVPs really had no clue what was going on.  The DL allowed us (now them) to communicate not only with each other but with people at MS to get needed information.  As far as distributing it outside the DL I seem to recall that we were told to treat everything as NDA unless specifically told otherwise.


7. Unhealthy reliance on MVP…


I have not done any speaking engagements while a MVP or now that I am no longer a MVP so I have nothing to say on this.


8. Regional…


Never heard of this happening so I have no comment on it.


9. Company Politics need to be left outside the program…


Not sure where this is coming from but the only thing I can say on this is how exactly is this the MVP program’s fault?  People are people.  I know there are MVPs that I do no like and I certainly would not hang out with them….heck I had to work with one of them! (Just kidding Adam and Stacy if you are reading this)   I have worked with and against MVPs (got to love the world of consulting) and business is business.   If it comes down between an award and a job, I am going to err on the side of my job.


10. Your way of doing things vs. Ours…


OK, this one has always bugged me.  I never knew what it was that earned me my MVP award (although considering I had not done much community programming or speaking it must have been the newsgroup postings) but what are going to do.  Should MS say that if you post X number of blog postings and Z number of newsgroup postings you will get an award? This is a tough line to walk.


Just remember that the MVP program is an award not an entitlement.  Did I agree with everything about the MVP program?  Absolutely not.  Are there things I would like to see changed?  Absolutely, but I strongly believe there is more good than bad in the program.