This is the technical blog of Keyvan Nayyeri, a 29 years old software engineer at Match.Com, speaker and author. You will find content about computer science, programming, and technology on here.
[Update2: I had missed a "Don't" in my post which changed its content. Now it's corrected. My apologies. MVPs, please forgive me!]
Recently there were some news about Microsoft MVP program. Some known names such as James Cansdale, Paul Wilson and Chris Garrett haven't been awarded for 2007 and Roy Osherove and Brendan Tompkins have written about MVP program.
I don't want to ask why Microsoft hasn't chosen those men as MVPs but I want to say MVP programs doesn't play the role that are expected to play. Also I don't want to say every guy who is considered as MVP shouldn't be an MVP actually.
You know already Microsoft and Telligent give MVP awards to individual developers who work on their products (I don't know any other company with same award, if you know please leave a comment and let me know). But I can't be sure they're giving an MVP award, I can name it MAG (Most Active Guy) because these companies are giving these awards to anyone who is providing content for their products or is advertising for their products.
If you check to see how companies choose their MVPs, can find that they choose developers who are active on communities (writing articles, speaking at user groups and answering to tons of forum posts are most common parameters for recognition) and what's in an MVP award for a developer? Usually free licenses for products or good discounts plus some other things such as using VIP level in conferences and being invited to summits and also a good point in their resume.
But what will these companies get? They get free support and advertisement from their MVPs who are encouraged to keep their MVP award and now love that company and their products. Yes, I should stop here and confirm that many developers loved these companies and products before being an MVP, yes, this is right! I love Community Server regardless of being an MVP or not, it's same for many other MVPs.
I can't judge this MVP award is bad or good. I'm a Community Server MVP myself and am happy for this but I think companies should rename this award. People who are being chosen as MVP in a product mustn't be a Most Valuable Professional indeed. Look, one of the major groups of people who are awarded as MVP by Microsoft are community owners. Others write articles, answer to forums and keep a community alive but owner gets the award but I (and maybe you) have seen many of these owners who were just an amateur guy in that field. I'm sure there are many community owners that must be an MVP but on the other side many other owners mustn't be!
We already know many developers who must be an MVP but aren't. Phil Haack and Jeff Atwood are two instances in Microsoft products (I can add a list of Community Server team member names who created a powerful platform) and Thomas Freudenberg is another instance for Community Server. But why they're not an MVP? Answer is very simple (as I guess), because they haven't answered to many forum posts, haven't written many articles or haven't spoken in user groups. Is there anybody who says these men shouldn't be an MVP?!
Generally we have two groups of people: one group are who are professional and have been active such as Scott Watermasysk, Scott Hanselman and many other names that can't be listed here so should be an MVP and another group consists of people who shouldn't be an MVP at all (let's keep their names private!).
Being an MVP can be beneficial for a developer but it has many benefits for companies though. Companies should know that MVP award isn't a good way to encourage people. Many developers do what an MVP does (even more) and don't expect any award because they love a product. I suggest companies to give their awards to these guys because they're only guys who can keep and improve it.
I hope companies change their look at MVP programs. Quality is falling down since Microsoft is giving its MVP awards randomly! Even they don't give their awards to active community members, they're just doing odd things.
Fortunately Telligent MVP award could be success up to now and beneficial, both for MVPs and Telligent (I didn't say that to keep my award, that's a truth which I hope we don't miss it).
+ Above paragraphs were just my thoughts about what is happening to my beloved communities and could be wrong and I gave them to help improve things. You know I rarely write these kinds of posts.