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Showing Some MVP Love

Microsoft changed the rules for the MVP program this year, which is great so long as they remember to trim the fat. Also, learn how to make cleaner reports by removing redundant data using the Repeater control.




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t's always great to be recognized for doing a great job or helping someone out. That was the original idea behind Microsoft's MVP (Most Valuable Professional) program. In Microsoft's (collective) mind when they created the program, the trenches of the development newsgroups was the place where help was performed best, so decisions regarding MVP program admission were based almost completely on how much you contributed to those newsgroups.

While I have the utmost respect for those developers that so graciously offer their time and expertise to others through the newsgroups, there are many other ways in which an individual can make great contributions to the Microsoft development community. Some of these ways include running a community-oriented Web site, starting a user group, writing articles, and speaking at user groups and conferences. All of these activities (and several others) combine to make the Microsoft developer community one of the strongest in the world. It is only fitting that everyone that makes a significant contribution to the Microsoft developer community be awarded the MVP status, without bias toward any particular medium of communication.

I'm very happy to report that this year Microsoft has seen the light and is awarding MVP status to a whole new segment of community leaders. Yours truly is among the new MVPs, but I think that the most significant new MVPs are many of the .NET user group leaders (think INETA). These people spend a great deal of their time organizing meetings and evangelizing .NET development. I think that it is wonderful that Microsoft recognizes these (often overlooked) individuals for their efforts. This recognition may also encourage others to start .NET user groups in their areas.

Now that Microsoft has rightfully expanded the available criteria for MVP nominations, though, I think that it is important that they not let the program get out of control. The number of developers that have certifications such as MCSD and MCAD has reached a point of saturation where it really doesn't carry much value anymore. I don't want to see the MVP status suffer a similar fate. Luckily, Microsoft reviews the MVP status each year, so this program is well-suited to "trimming the fat," so to speak. This is a transition year so there will likely be many more MVPs than there really should be. Going forward, Microsoft should set a quota on the number of MVPs that they maintain each year. This number shouldn't be so small that it is exclusionary, but it shouldn't be easy to get in, either. As with the college or job application process, Microsoft should look for those individuals that are well-rounded, contributing to the Microsoft development community in two or more different ways.

I'm sure that this article will generate some hate mail from existing MVPs who only contribute to the newsgroups and who were happy with the way things used to be, but thinking that way just doesn't make sense anymore (if it ever did). The very essence of the award itself (Most Valuable Professional), suggests that admission to the program must be extremely competitive. If you need a real world analogy, consider professional sports. Everybody in a given professional sports league is pretty darn talented, but only the best get to play in the all star game. In the case of the MVP program, I think that increasing the competition will be good for the development community because individuals who want to make the cut will seek out more opportunities to help others (either directly or indirectly). Let down your guard, and you may not get a trip to the MVP Summit next year (as it should be).

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