Monday, October 02, 2006

Okay, so what exactly is an MVP?

Now that I've gotten the award, several people have been asking me exactly what makes someone an MVP. To be quite honest, I wanted a bit of a more concrete answer myself, so I did some hunting. I stumbled upon this article "What Is an MVP, Anyway?" written by Jonathan Goodyear, and found some very good answers there. I'll quote a few paragraphs here to highlight his findings:

"...As an experiment, I asked numerous other MVPs, Microsoft employees, and other influential people in the industry their definition of a Microsoft MVP. The range of answers I got was pretty broad. I heard everything from “MVPs are super talented developers” (Microsoft employees are pre-programmed to use the word super in every other sentence) to “MVPs are developers who contribute to newsgroups a lot.”

While either of the previous statements may or may not be a quality of a particular MVP, it does not define what an MVP is. I didn’t have to look much further than the official Microsoft MVP Web site to track down the “party line” on their MVP definition ( It defines an MVP as:

'...recognized, credible, and accessible individuals with expertise in one or more Microsoft products who actively participate in online and offline communities to share their knowledge and expertise with other Microsoft customers.'"

Jonathan goes on to explain how the online community has transformed its definition recently...

"...I went directly to the source and spoke with Sean O’Driscoll, Senior Director of the Customer Service and Support Community and the MVP Program. Sean started off by saying that the MVP program is an “award and recognition program.” While a certain amount of technical skill is usually needed to accomplish the tenets of MVP membership, the MVP program is in no way a measuring stick of the technical merits of its members. Myth debunked.

When I asked Sean for details regarding how to become an MVP, he gave me some historical context. He said that the program was started more than 10 years ago as a “thank you program for outstanding contributions to the community.” At the time, “community” meant newsgroups. In my opinion, that narrow definition made the ambitious term MVP a bit of a misnomer. About three years ago, Microsoft decided that they should let their customers define what “community” is. As a result, several other community contribution avenues were added to the MVP selection criteria. Some of these are forum postings, books, articles, blogs, and speaking at and/or leading user groups and other community events.

I guess that's how I've managed to do it, because I admit that I am not very active in public newsgroups, but I am very active in forum posting, attending community events, and using my blog as a portal of communication regarding Flight Simulator.


Nick Whittome said...

Ahhh yes, the eternal question.

Simply put... you don't look to become a MVP. You get looked at by others and nominated.

Then you may - or may not - pass the criteria of the product group, MVP lead, and MVP program.

It is a yearly award, given based on the past year's community work.

n4gix said...

So, I guess I must not have impressed anyone enough with my > 150,000 forum and newsgroup posts, of which > 80% were helpful tips and one-on-one guidance with a technical/gauge/modeling problem... ;)