The MVP Award Looks Backward

I was awarded the Microsoft Data Platform MVP designation in July 2018. I’ve been honored to receive this designation since 2008, though the award doesn’t drive my work. I started writing articles to help others get better with their work, just as I got help from others before me. That was the goal of SQLServerCentral, and I’m proud whenever I hear that I’ve been able to help someone solve a problem, learn a new skill, or improve their career in some way.

Microsoft has an MVP site, and they describe the people they recognize in this way: “Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals, or MVPs, are technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community.” The award is for those that make efforts to help others “ranging from speaking engagements, to social media posts, to writing books, to helping others in online communities …” In other words, for those that help others, Microsoft chooses to designate some of them as MVPs for their efforts.

Their past efforts.

That’s the key. If you are awarded the MVP designation, then you’ve spent quite a bit of time during the previous year helping others and sharing knowledge. You could stop all your writing, speaking, etc., and you’d still be an MVP for the next year. You might not be renewed after that, but you could use the logo, attend the MVP Summit, and more during this year.

There are budget constraints to the MVP program, just like other corporate initiatives. As a result, not every speaker, blogger, open source MS stack developer, etc. gets awarded. People get nominated, or if they’re already MVPs, they’re automatically considered for the next award period. This leads to an evaluation process where every nominee for some period is ranked in some order. I have no idea what method is used, but it’s a combination of speaking, blogging, organizing events, writing free/open source software, and likely more. There is a budget that says only xx people will be awarded, and the top xx people get picked. I really have no idea how this works, but since I’ve been a recipient of the award, this is what I’ve observed.

Most people appreciate the award and continue to contribute to the community. Some really want to earn the award and make special efforts to ensure they make plenty of contributions. If you want to get recognized, it takes a lot of work. This is a competitive environment, with many people regularly making contributions to the community. You have to make enough to rank above the cutoff, regardless of accomplishments in prior years.

I’m always appreciative of the award, but as I mentioned, it doesn’t drive me. I have a set of things that I do for work, and a set that I volunteer for as a part of the community. If that earns me a high enough ranking, that’s great. If it doesn’t, I’m fine with that. Ultimately my goal is to help others, and I’ll continue to do that, regardless of recognition.

Steve Jones

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