In my previous guest blog entry I touched on some “MVP Program Basics”. I received a few notes from people who read it and thought they are a good match. I look forward to receiving more and possibly getting a few new MVPs out of all those contacts I made. In this guest blog entry I will try to answer the question every blog reader looks for in a blog entry - “what’s in it for me?”. Speaking to such a wide range of developers who read this blog, it’s difficult to answer this question. The answer that I can offer is what’s in it for MVPs who are already part of the program....
Before I get into the benefits, Qixing asked me to cover the type of communities I will be looking at when I look for MVPs. It is hard to say – but I am pretty sure I will cover both online and offline communities. For starters, I will be evaluating top participants at the Expressions Community discussions (see snip below). Some MVPs are already there – you can see the MVP logo attached to their signature. Also, I will be attending as many offline events such as code camps and bar camps to look for key community experts there. Of course, I will lean on Qixing to provide me some tips here as well :).
I promised to cover some of the MVP Program ‘benefits’ and Microsoft product group (PG) interaction in my last entry. Well, these two are kind of tied together. The ability to talk to a developer who developed a specific feature on i.e. Expression or Silverlight is generally seen as a great benefit by MVPs. When answering developer questions, on forums or on stage, it is useful to have a connection to the right people. If an immediate answer is not available, we can generally connect the MVPs and the Expression or WFP product group to help find a correct answer. We do this through private newsgroups, monthly live meetings, conference calls and chats – whatever is best suited for particular MVP / PG combo, which is kind of neat. “
However, according to most of the MVPs I talk to, the biggest benefit is the ability to connect to other MVPs. The MVP Program facilitates this in a number of ways, both online (private newsgroups, Live meetings) and offline (i.e. Local, country specific MVP Open Days, MVP Summit). MVP Summit is the highlight of the year for me. Last year we had a 5-day MVP Summit in Redmond. Some 1600 MVPs from all over the world came and collaborated with the Product Group. I already mentioned MVPs are sometimes our biggest critics – and this really comes out during these face-to-face meetings. A lot, if not all, of MVPs have new ideas on how to make the products better. During the summit we get a chance to discuss many of those ideas. This could potentially be your chance to make a change in the next Microsoft product. I already mentioned it before - 7/10 biggest RFCs (requests for change) for Visual Studio 2005 came from MVPs!!
On that same note, the MVP summit is not the only place MVPs get to influence Microsoft products. MVPs are involved in pre-alpha, alpha and beta/CTP releases (depending on how much free time they have J). So, throughout the year they give us feedback on what they think needs to be changed. As MVPs spend a lot of time in the community, they know very well what the community thinks about certain features of the ‘current release’ and they are the main voice of the community back to the product group.
There are many other ‘benefits’ which I think, and I am sure many of my MVPs would agree, are nice to have but not a reason why they are MVPs – i.e. MSDN / TechNet subscriptions, etc. These subscriptions are worth a few hundred dollars and if you are spending hundreds of hours in the community just to get a technical subscription, then I’m not sure that’s the best use of your time. I said it in my previous blog entry, and I will say it again – they are in this for the good of the technical community without expecting to get anything back for it.
Some MVPs say having a dedicated person – MVP Lead - handling the relationship between them and Microsoft is a pretty big benefit as well. On that note, and if you are more of a “podcast type”, here are the Channel 9 podcasts from my peers in the US (Part 2 & Part 3), discussing where MVPs can be found and what are some of the other benefits of MVP Program (website, public profile, award kit, etc). You are also welcome to check out the MVP Profile of John Marshall, a Visio MVP from Ottawa.
This entry concludes my 2-blog series on MVP Program. If there is anything else you would like to hear about, feel free to drop me a line.