What makes a community leader?

So today we received the news that one of our SBS MVP brethren has been retired from the MVP program.  This person was in fact the first ever SBS MVP and his retirement leaves us all with a hole in our hearts.  Being the first, this man set the tone for the community, both in the public newsgroups, and mailing lists that he started.  He set the standards unofficially about the way we worked with each other.  To me he will always be the grandfather of SBS. 


This has gotten me thinking though.  How do you measure the contributions of an individual to the community.  Microsoft measure it by a number of metrics – the number of posts, the number of website hits on a persons site, the number of user groups they present at.  To me though whilst this is one way of measurement, I am not 100% sure it’s the most accurate.  The number of posts a person makes may include the “me too posts” – heck that can easily increase their level of contribution under the current system.


I think that MS need to think outside the box when it comes to measurement of an individual in the community.  I don’t like to make a statement like that without some form of constructiveness about it – but I really don’t have any idea how to do it.  Should they ask “Who’s heard of Susan Bradley” – in which case many people would respond “sure she’s the google queen”.  Is that a way to measure the effect on the community?  I really don’t know – but I do know that I think we the community need to try to figure out a new way to measure impact so we can help Microsoft with this task.  Give me your feedback and comments please.


Grey Lancaster will always be an SBS MVP in my heart – thanks Grey for all you’ve done for the world of SBS.  Susan Bradley also has some background on the grandfather of SBS in her blog here http://www.msmvps.com/bradley/

6 thoughts on “What makes a community leader?

  1. What fascinates me is where they are counting posts. With so many groups on the web who can measure. Will we have to wait for WebFountain (from IBM) to really know? I belong to over 22 yahoo groups and post and read all of them. I have taken a dive or two into the MS newsgroups but personally I find the format and the tool a little more awkward and it is harder to keep up with the messages. I have also tried the MSN groups without much pleasure so for now I yahoo.

    I walk the line and mix in mingle in both the techical and the business space. Works for me.

    Good post Wayne!

  2. Remembering back to the old k12 sbslist grey had prior to yahoo, made some good contacts, though i never got to go hunting with Grey as planned. Sad to see him move on from the program. There’s still a few old time sbsers out there, even if it’s not our 100% focus anymore.

  3. I have often found myself wondering or wanting to read about where a successful idea came from. Who started that? What a great idea! Was it a hit from the start? How did they handle growth? How they hold it all together through the rough times? As I type this, I happen to be watching a bunch of 20-something know-it-all MBA wannaebes tell each other they should be the next ‘Apprentice’.

    In the background are a couple of solid, grounded, veterans of business (George and Carolyn) providing ‘The Donald’ with the wisdom, knowledge and experience that he relies on to make those Billion dollar decisions he makes.

    I have always felt lucky to have a voice of wisdom and experience in our group of MVPs. I have always felt privileged to have the founder of the SBS2K list, the guy with the original idea, in our little MVP group keeping things on track and keeping the green horn rookies in check (like I once was just a few months ago) when we wanted to take on more than we could chew or if our heads got a little bit big.

    I just found out that Grey, our solid foundation and the original SBS MVP was not asked to continue with us as an SBS MVP by the MVP program. We’re loosing a big part of our solid foundation and some of the wisdom that makes the SBS MVP group, in my humble opinion, the best group of MVPs in the program. Unlike other MVP groups we do not try to out geek each other (that came from Grey). We work together for the benefit of SBS and the SBS community (THAT came from Grey).

    Many or most of us are principals in our own businesses and realize that tough numbers games, and difficult decisions are part of business. But as a wise businessperson we would find some way to keep an important, solid, valuable team member like Grey in the fold.

    This is one of those times – we need to find a way! Grey is THE original SBS MVP. That shouldn’t change. He is Classic Coke to New Coke and we need to bring him back – by popular demand.

    Roger Otterson

  4. I don’t remember when I joined the egroups (now yahoogroups) list, but I knew I thought SBS was a great product and I wanted to find out more about it. I think I was (still am) on an Outlook list at the time and came across the SBS list. It was there I found the information I was looking for and it was there I first "met" Grey Lancaster. This guy just had it all set up the way I felt it should be, and I awaited his posts, and looked up his web site just to get the latest snippet of information.

    Then I started playing around with Netmeeting, and Grey and I had a little chat on that – not about anything in particular IIRC, but it was just part of my thrust that I had to know something more about the person behind these posts. I actually only got to meet Grey in person at the MVP summit last April and was not disappointed.

    I suppose what I am saying is that this is what defines community, not some artificial number of posts, web-site hits measure. Still, we (the community) don’t own the MVP programme and IMHO it will not truly be a community programme until we do!

    Hats off to Grey. I salute you from afar.

    Just my 0.02 worth.

    Steven Teiger

  5. A community is created by its members. It matters not whether that community is face to face vs virtual. It is built and maintained by its members. It is NOT defined by fiat from by any force, be it corporate or government or religous. Communities exist for the benift of there members. Communies with out clear voices wither and stagnate.

    If microsoft wishes to keep its communties and the respect of its members. I suggest they revisit how the community thinks of how they choose who is an MVP.

    Public and Transparent – might not be a bad thing.

    Was it the number of books you publish that keeps you as MVP?

    Is it the number of cashews you eat in a skybox at a ball game?

    Is is the number of posts? On whitch new group?

    Is it the number of late night phone calls you answer from around the globe?

    Is it some new idea you have or staying power?

    It is based on how many times you can get to redmond?

    It is based on how may AT microsfot addesses you have in your contacts?

    Is it based on many recommendations you can find…

    Heck I don’t know. But i would like to know how and why. If it is caprious and random, great. If its is a bunch of numbers, okay.

    If it is a new technique – great…

    But IMHO – the MVP brand in my eyes has become very diluted….

    David R. Hibbeln

  6. You do not kick family out of a community without warning. If you are considering this in any way, you warn someone. Hey listen, I’ve noticed you haven’t been making as much of an impact on the newsgroups lately, if that doesn’t change in the next quarter we might have to think about not renewing you. In the meantime, is there anything I can do to help or understand why it is you haven’t been as active?

    That’s what you do for family and SBS has always been a family. I know, I was the 2nd MVP Lead for the group, my husband was first. I took the job from him and then they took it from me and sent it to Seattle. 🙁 I miss you guys and Grey is a big part of what I miss. I hope you will visit us the next time you are in the states, Wayne!

    Love – Kristin

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