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What's an MVP?

By Steve Jones,


I was chosen as a Microsoft MVP, Most Valued Professional, this past January, joining quite a few other distinguished SQL Server people in this group of people that work in the SQL Server Community. A number of other authors here, Brian Knight, Jacob Sebastian, Kathi Kellenberger, Andy Leonard, Michael Coles, Jeff Moden, Gail Shaw, and a few others, are also MVPs. I got to attend the Microsoft Global MVP Summit in Redmond with some of them where we talked with developers and program managers about SQL Server and heard about new plans for the product.

I've been asked this question quite a bit (what's an MVP?) and I'm not quite sure how to answer it, but here are a few thoughts. It's a little vague on the Microsoft MVP site and even after reading some of the descriptions and talking to friends that are, I'm not quite clear what you have to do to become an MVP.

I think in general it's a good idea by Microsoft to recognize experts outside of their company and I think many of the people chosen are very talented. However I'm not sure that talent is really required. There are some very talented people that didn't get renewed this year, and I know some of them are much more skilled than I in SQL Server.

I got nominated by a current MVP, which seems to be the process. Once you are nominated, you fill out a form that lists your involvement in the community, speaking, authoring, forum posting, newsgroup participation, blog, etc. Then at some point your achievements are examined and you get chosen.

The criteria seems to be sharing knowledge with the community. I think that makes some sense and it's important to reward people that are helping others. After all, this is way for Microsoft to leverage the marketing power of people in the real world using their software. I think that it's fine and it allows people to become experts in some technology and be rewarded without having to work directly for Microsoft.

At first I wanted to have the criteria published, after all, it would make some sense for people to know what you have to do in order to get this award. If it were available, however, I am sure that quite a few people would try to game the system in order to get the award for a year and all the benefits that come along with it. That's not really what is intended and I'm not sure that would be good for the community.

It seems that you have to show "a passion for SQL Server" (or other Microsoft technology) and be a strong participant in the community in order to be recognized. And with so many people doing community work, there's a fairly healthy level of competition, at least in the SQL Server community.

I'm not sure why I was picked, or if I'll be renewed in 2009, but I can say that I have enjoyed going to Redmond, meeting my fellow MVPs, debating issues, and making our feelings about SQL Server known to the development team at Microsoft.

Steve Jones

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