David Lemphers has posted some thoughts on the MVP program. Since Clarke Scott has seen fit to replace his response, I'm going to put my $0.02 up as well. People who know me know that I don’t mince my words – I call a spade a spade. I apologise in advance if my bluntness causes offence. Please try to understand that I like to be direct and avoid "beating around the bush"

To summarise Dave's post first though (quotes are direct from Dave's blog):

  • The MVP program is good overall. However there are some MVPs who "are not fully bearing their mantle as a Most Valuable Professional" and there are also some MVPs "that make the loudest blip on the radar, but don’t necessarily add value" who also get in.
  • The solution "...is to continually 'churn' the MVP family". Dave believes that the year you have your MVP award gives you the opportunity to connect with product teams, gain valuable insights and gives you a platform to grow. After your one year is up, you don’t need that anymore.
  • Dave looks forward to the day when "more and more people get to say those magic words... 'Oh yeah, I used to be an MVP, it's a tough racket'"

Whilst I have the greatest respect for Dave and the work he does, I think his solution sucks. You see what I mean about being direct :-)

Firstly, if there are people in the MVP program who are not carrying their weight, or who are just generating value-less noise, then the solution is to improve the awarding/selection/nomination process. As Dave pointed out in his post – he was one of the people who put in a successful nomination. It's incumbent upon the nominators to be more judicious in their nominations, and it's incumbent upon the MVP Program administration group to be more rigorous in their application of the criteria. Kicking everyone out of the program after some arbitrary period (one year) is throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Secondly I strongly disagree that there should be different criteria for new entrants, and for people being re-awarded. MVPs should be awarded based on their contribution to the field/community, their technical expertise and their professionalism (someone who’s technically brilliant, but spends their time abusing less knowledgeable people should not be awarded IMHO). Being an MVP is an award for past action not a reward to be given to people who've performed well. As such the criteria should be the same for all. If it wasn’t gurus like Bill McCarthy and Mitch Denny wouldn't be MVPs, and that would be a travesty. The MVP program would become a "MVP for those that haven’t been MVPs before" program.

Lastly Dave might look forward to the day that people say "I used to be an MVP", but I don’t. I think Microsoft (and every other vendor) should encourage people to assist others with their technology, to push the boundaries of their products, and to provide feedback that helps improve the product. That’s what MVPs do, not people who "used to be MVPs"

Dave as posted a followup to his original post, though I’m not sure whether it’s a clarification of his original post (it doesn't look like it) or some additional thoughts. To respond to his points:

Lastly Dave might look forward to the day that people say "I used to be an MVP", but I don’t. I think Microsoft (and every other vendor) should encourage people to assist others with their technology, to push the boundaries of their products, and to provide feedback that helps improve the product. That’s what MVPs do, not people who "used to be MVPs"

Dave as posted a followup to his original post, though I’m not sure whether it’s a clarification of his original post (it doesn't look like it) or some additional thoughts. To respond to his points:

  • The need for additional programs to recognize different types of work. I disagree. The MVP award can be used for any type of community work that meets the requisite criteria, whether that be user groups, newsgroups, running a website, or what-have-you. The additional stuff that MVPs get (access to product teams and so forth, presenting opportunities) are dependent on lots of other things already. They're not included as part of the formal MVP award, and as such can be given out at the discretion of the relevant MSFT owner depending on the skills/abilities of the MVP in question
  • The use of the community to award MVPs. I disagree. The risk exists of cliques arising that continually re-award themselves. The ultimate decision on awarding MVPs needs to be based on a dispassionate, independent party applying transparent criteria. By all means accept nominations from all and sundry, but the final decision needs to rest in the hands of a neutral arbiter.

Well, that's enough venting for one day! Next post is on IIS7 in Longhorn Build 5270