What is an MVP?
As a Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional), I've occasionally found that people have no idea what that means.
Here are some of the suggestions I've heard from others:
- A corporate 'shill', paid secretly in order to say good things about Microsoft.
- An 'evangelist' for Microsoft.
- Someone who's crazy enough to work for Microsoft on their spare time for free.
- A person seduced by free trinkets and toys to market on behalf of Microsoft.
- An 'astroturf' campaign (an artificial 'grassroots' campaign) designed to persuade people that ordinary users support Microsoft.
- It's a test you can take, like MCP or MCSE.
- It's a programme you buy into, like the Microsoft Certified Partner programme.
Well, it's none of these things, but it can look like any number of them.
If it's confusing, don't worry - many times, even Microsoft staff get it wrong, and act as if we're on some kind of retainer.
MVP is an award. As such, it is given for past behaviour.
MVPs are not slavishly devoted to Microsoft - one of them is, to my knowledge, a Linux / Unix fan, and got his MVP award based partly on displaying his knowledge of interoperating those systems with Windows.
There's no test to be an MVP - and no criteria.
The general requirements are this:
- Be neutral-to-positive towards Microsoft overall (I mean, really, would you award anyone who consistently slags off your products?)
- Demonstrate a persistent ability to voluntarily help the community of Microsoft customers.
That's pretty much it.
Oh, and you have to be over 18, because some of the award is access to NDA material, so you have to be legally able to sign the NDA.
I've heard of only a handful of people who have "tried to become an MVP" and succeeded, and they generally were not re-awarded.
More common by far, and the way most MVPs feel, is that you would be doing this stuff anyway, because you enjoy helping others and learning from the experience.
The award makes you feel less like ditching the "helping the community" hat the first time someone calls you in the middle of the night demanding free support because they don't want to pay Microsoft for a support call, and by the way, their entire corporate structure is about to collapse unless you can fix their problem.
The award also puts you in contact with numerous other people who feel and act the same way you do - learning by teaching, helping yourself by helping others.
It's by no means a recompense for the service that MVPs do, nor is it a bribe to make us talk nice (MVPs are often the most accurately targeted and vocal critics of Microsoft's failings).
It's a recognition that we are helpful to you.