I’m honored to have the opportunity today to share with you a bit about the Microsoft MVP Award—-- what it is, what we look for when awarding MVPs, and…what it isn’t.
What It Is
The MVP Award is Microsoft’s way of saying thank you to exceptional community leaders. It’s been around for nearly 20 years and today we recognize about 4,000 MVPs worldwide each year. They’re active in virtually every shipping product at Microsoft—including around 50 MVPs awarded in the Xbox realm.
Ultimately our goal for the MVP Award is to recognize experts in the community who are doing what they do because they are passionate about helping others. By day they’re developers, IT professionals, retired police officers, bankers, school principals, or even lawyers (like aceattorney). But after hours, they’re helping others in online forums, presenting at local events, authoring articles for theirs or others’ websites, recording podcasts, organizing charitable events, or a host of other activities.
MVPs get a number of benefits including Microsoft Developer Network or TechNet subscriptions, an invitation to the annual MVP Global Summit held on the Redmond campus, an MVP relationship manager who can serve as a contact within Microsoft, an award kit, and various other things. But what we hear is the most valuable benefit to MVPs is the ability to build closer ties to the people who create and help shape the Microsoft products they are passionate about.
And Microsoft benefits greatly by those closer ties as well. Since all MVPs sign a non-disclosure agreement, we have the opportunity to offer MVPs a “peek under the hood,” the ability to share information that we can’t share publicly and seek out their opinions as the folks who have hands-on experience with our products out in the world. They offer us the voice of the broader community. All we ask of MVPs is that they behave professionally and uphold the NDA.
You can find more specifics about the program or individual MVPs at http://microsoft.com/mvp
What It Takes
First and foremost, we look for folks who have demonstrated a commitment to helping others. We’re not looking for people who simply wish to be recognized for personal gain, but for those who genuinely desire to serve a community by sharing their expertise. The community benefits from their willingness to create and share their knowledge.
To find them, we take nominations from a range of sources—members of the community, other MVPs, or members of Microsoft’s product groups. Sometimes one of our worldwide MVP Leads identifies a potential candidate. Sometimes candidates even nominate themselves. Good candidates can come from anywhere.
I’ve sometimes encountered a perception that evaluating MVPs occurs in some dark back room, where either a popularity contest occurs or 2d20 are rolled and then someone is invited to join the secret brotherhood (or sisterhood) of MVPdom.
In fairness, there is some ambiguity to the process, and that’s by design - for the basic reason that if we said, “If you post 1,000 times in the forums, you can be an MVP.” we’d find that some people would, indeed, post 1,000 times and expect to be awarded. But we’re looking for folks who are providing unique value and who are active because they want to help out, not just pumping out blunt responses to other’s questions to drive up their post count. We’re looking for quality and quantity. And quality is inherently subjective.
There’s actually quite an extensive process behind the quarterly evaluations of both new candidates and existing MVPs. Briefly, our MVP Leads - located around the world - collect and document participation samples from both new candidates and existing MVPs across all technologies in their local language. Then all evaluations are compiled and presented to a group of product team members and MVP Award Program members to decide whether or not we should extend the award. Those approved will have the award for one full year.
What It Isn’t
I’d also like to address some of the misperceptions we’ve heard about the award:
- “Once you’re in, you’re in.”
While some MVPs are awarded multiple times due to high levels of participation, there is a significant amount of turnover each year as existing MVPs are “retired” and new MVPs are awarded. Xbox MVPs average about three years as an award recipient with about a third recognized longer than four years. Litheon holds the distinction of being the longest-recognized Xbox MVP at about 7 years.
- “You have to be an Xbox Ambassador or know someone on the inside to be an MVP.”
There is an important distinction to draw between the Xbox Xperts, Xbox Ambassadors and the Xbox MVP programs. The former two are related specifically to Xbox support-related assistance and Xbox forum presence. The MVP Award is a Microsoft-wide program that seeks to recognize varied types of participation across different resources and channels – forums, websites (with original content), local /live events, presentations, different countries and languages, etc. It’s fascinating to bring together community members active in different ways and see the perspectives they bring. This breadth of experience and feedback is hugely valuable. While we absolutely consider Xbox Xperts and Ambassadors as MVPs, they are separate and distinct programs.
- “It’s just a club.”
We spend hours collecting and objectively evaluating each candidate and comparing their participation against existing MVPs. But we can’t be involved in the community to the breadth and depth necessary to know everything about everyone; there have been some rare occasions where opinions and information from the community have been considered as a part of the evaluation. This is about doing due diligence.
If you know of outstanding community members who deserve recognition for their leadership, and who are participating primarily for the love of gaming and the benefit of others, nominate them! If you’ve got any questions, feel free to post a comment. Lastly, get to know the Xbox MVPs who represent your community.
gung hay fat choi?
this seems very useful tools for tomarrows leaders im glad to see that at heart the company looks towards the future ^_^
Good post mike! Congrats to the recently renewed MVP's!
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MVP? Listen , I've had 6 360's all together, my accounts been hacked... I've ran out of my gold, this is crazy.... I've been with xbox since they got online in 2003 with my Kill4NuGz account, How do I invest all this money into your products that all fail... Then you blame the game publisher's , the Cable service providers, and yet you charge for garbage. Can I get a Full refund somehow to go get something that works for more than a year?
i wanna join too!!
I like how its not based solely off of quantity but quality of posts.. *thumbs up*
Well I have a problem with an mvp on the halo forums because for some reason he's banning me when I'm getting flamed and responding to posts and he's not banning the other people who are starting it. I know I should be able to contact sombody about this and I won't stop until I do. This is BS. That's not the way it works.
how do i join