The deterioration of the MVP-program

The deterioration of the MVP-program

For many years I considered the MVP-program to stand as a guarantee for:

• Professional high quality and a deep knowledge and skillfulness about various tools.
• A driving force for continuous development where the output became standards and widely adapted in the global virtual communities.
• Represent the cutting edge.

Individuals who was accredited the MVP-status did to high degree qualify in view of the above. This was valid during the 90’s and in the early 2000’s but for the last years it has been a dramatically change where the above seems to be no longer valid.

I’m the first one to regret that I nowadays consider the whole MVP-program as a joke and therefore no longer stand as a guarantee for quality.

It’s obvious that MSFT has switched strategy for the program as they now accredit:

• Kids
• Young and nice individuals but with no experience or with a limited experience.
• Site owners & Authors

What do these groups have in common except for the lack of quality, experience, knowledge and skillfulness and what can they actually contribute with?

Personally I see the individuals in these groups as victims and I can also understand why they accept the accreditation. After all, MSFT are today the most powerful software company worldwide and therefore it would require a lot from individuals to turn them down.

However, I can only conclude that it exist a gap between what the MVP-program once was and what it has become today. What is also notable is that highly respected members have left the program or consider leaving it (keep in mind that Excel is a small group in the total MVP-program).

Where are the new Excel MVPs?
It looks like many of the recently MVPs disappear from the global community which indicate that something is wrong. Has the accreditation become a burden and therefore feel that they cannot stand up for it?

As a consequence I conclude that the recent Excel MVPs have contributed with little to the knowledge base for the last years. For the last 4-5 years I can only single out the chart-area. Sure, we’ve see some nice solutions that use API and other libraries but these solutions have been applied in the classic VB for a longer time (read 90’s).

The rapid development in many areas where Excel is involved strongly requires that the Excel MVPs take the responsibility for the development and take the lead. Excel cannot no longer be viewed as a standalone tools.

There are some emergency areas like Excel – Sharepoint, Excel – Visual Studio.NET & VSTO that need to get the attention. However, in order to do it MSFT need to make sure that they have well qualified and active MVPs.

Restore the MVP-program
I would like to see that MSFT reconsider the development and restore the trust in that the MVP-program still stand for all the good aspects. Here is a list what I would like to see:

• Clean up – Individuals that doesn’t measure up to the level, or are no longer active or are not interested to be part of the global community should gracefully be helped to leave the program.
• Accept that during some years there are no good candidates and therefore no accreditation will be executed.
• Encourage and support the MVPs to be the driving force for Excel in all areas.

People who know me well also know that I’m not a badge/title person and therefore do not mix my own person with the above discussion.

It’s my concern to maintain the level of quality associated with the MVP-program. Perhaps I’m old fashion but that’s the way it is.

Kind regards,
Dennis

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80 thoughts on “The deterioration of the MVP-program

  1. Hi Dennis,

    Even though I sometimes doubt which “group” I am a part of I share your concerns to some extent.

    That being said: The MVP program is about contributing to the MS “community”. As much as I might oppose to the fact that this does not imply a certain degree of expertise to be awarded, this is the way it is.

    I have no real objection against people getting this award for their activities helping other voluntairily (and I stress that: voluntairily) in other ways than just technical help. But I would prefer the technical level to be of more weight in the decision process.

  2. Oh boy.

    I have to agree in part, but disagree in other areas.
    I’d agree that using MVP’s as a marketing tool is on the rise, and is not a healthy thing. On the other hand there are a number of new MVP’s who are no different from the old MVP’s so I disagree that the deterioration of quality is perhaps as bad as you are stating.

    Of course, being a Project MVP I only see one small part of the ever expanding universe of MVPdom so my observations are partial at best.

    Hope your post leads to some constructive discussion.

  3. In the past, when new MVPs were announced, there was always a feeling of “Hey, So-and-so made it!” You knew who the people were, because they were in the forums, or they had written several books that were widely read, or they had extensive web sites full of tutorials; more likely, you knew them from several of these avenues.

    Of late, the feeling is often more like “Who??” You track down the names, and see a web site with three pages, hawking their consulting business or their book, but not providing any “volunteer” service to the community (granted, I advertise my business on my web site, but the advertisement is secondary to the *huge* amount of tutorial content I’ve developed over the years). Or you see a bunch of posts in some forum, but see no spark of creativity or technical expertise behind the words. And then you hear that some of the MVPs you respected for their intelligence and their contributions have not been renewed. So all that’s left is a feeling of disappointment.

  4. Reading XL-Dennis’ post reminds me of family elders and business superiors…the old generation whining about the new generation and how they just don’t measure up. We young ones usually tolerate this from our elders out of respect for their experience and expertise, but their stubborness, old-fashioned view of the world, and lack of faith force us to roll our eyes and pray we never become that way. But before we know it, we *are* the older generation and we’re doing and saying the same thing. :-)

  5. I always thought that Excel MVP would be hard to break into…
    Over the months I volunteered to Microsoft.Public.Excel.Programming I dont believe I was ever considered… Not that I really care, it was all about helping myself by helping others.

    I eventually gave up newsgroup supporting because:
    1. 99% of questions asked have already been answered.
    2. 99% of questions asked have a solution on Chip Pearson’s website.
    3. 99% of questions asked will be answered within a few seconds by Bob Philips or Tom Ogilvy.
    (The remaining 1% will be answered by Harlan Grove – watch out for those, they’re something special)

    I dont regret the time spent. It helped my career untold. I am considered an expert on Excel at my work – and that is something special consdering that my customers have used spreadsheets since lotus/quattro, are comfortable with circular references, linked workbooks, 10 minute full recalcs, etc…

    So, if you ever want to Learn Excel Real Fast™, start answering questions on the newsgroups and compare your answers to the elite.

    In the end it sucked too much time so I had to give it up… I got pretty lazy posting to Dick’s Blog too (and even my own site).

  6. There are bits of what Dick says that I agree with and there are bits of other peoples comments that I agree with. There are some MVP’s who’ve recently published chapters in their books that I strongly disagree with. However, those of us that are working on the front line and have the right experience know who we want to turn to do for technical advice that’s worth listening to. Much I’ve what I’ve done owes alot to Chip Pearson and John Walkenbach but I would never have got some of my stuff to work without the input of others from the newsgroups, some of whom manage to give you the wrong answer to the actual question you asked but say something in their answer that makes you think in a different way. I’m not aware of Microsoft ‘using’ MVP’s as a marketing tool, at least not in the UK, but if it benefits us all in some way is it a bid thing?

  7. [blockquote]
    There are bits of what Dick says
    [/blockquote]

    Haven’t seen his two cents worth yet?

    How does one become MVP? By being an author, or have a website or be very active in the forums|blogs|newsgroups or all of the above?

    [blockquote]
    I am considered an expert on Excel at my work
    [/blockquote]

    As am I, but sometimes I wonder just what that means; compared to what or whom? Yesterday I spent all day in a meeting with the Department of Revenue as ‘consultant’ on how the next continuing ed project was going to be put together. I can tell you I could not as the proverbial saying goes, “carry the jock strap” of most who post here and other places I hang out.
    Most of what I know is from the, literally, scores of books I have purchased and reading the newsgroups and forums and blogs much in the same manner as most do the daily newspaper. Yet over the years since, what 1992? I have made probably a dozen posts on the news groups – cause like it was stated earlier – the question has already been answered somewhere.
    The bottom line is, though I am looked to within my sphere of influence, as the Excel/Access geek and pick up an occasional saw buck here and there as a result (not solicited), I am by NO MEANS MVP material.

    My WOW! factor gets hit here and other sites on a regular basis. Excel is just too big to be mastered; well by me anyway; and am truly fortunate to have discovered the Walkenbachs, Colos, XLDennises, and Kusliekas of the world! I will keep buing their books and visiting their sites and looking for them in the groups.

    Of late, the feeling is often more like “Who??”

    Maybe part of the MVP process would be a ‘AP Poll’ like system for MSFT; if the masses that use those resources have not, overwhelmingly, heard of the candidates, then why go further?

    doco

  8. Rob,
    Allow me to remind of what the esteemed Stephen Bullen said 24/01/2005 on this blog: “Jamie Collins and Rob van Gelder are two non-MVPs that spring to mind, and whose contributions to the online Excel community are very much welcomed. I imagine that, in time, they will also be given the MVP award in recognition of their willingness to help others.”
    (http://www.dicks-blog.com/archives/2005/01/24/book-review-excel-annoyances/) I don’t know about you but I was highly flattered by Stephen’s comments. Way off with that second sentence, though (I guess the MVP Board lost your email address too, eh Rob ;) ?)

    Back to reality, does MSFT announce new MVPs by name or even publish the list of names of current MVPs? Last time I looked they’d removed the page due to ‘privacy issues’.

    When the page was up I remember thinking there were a lot of people who remained on the list based on their former glories. Can I use [NAME CENSORED] as an example? His site doesn’t seems to have been updated for years, he rarely posts solutions in the newsgroups, he’s written at least one anti-Excel article in his time, his blog is not an Excel blog and his comments on this Excel blog are mainly ironic jibes at his pal Dick K. However, if his books are still read by thousands then I’m not going to lobby for them to take away his MVP status (assuming he still has it).

    For me, the MVP status is not transparent enough e.g. who are they? what exactly did they do this year to retain their status? etc.

    If I don’t know what it is, how can I respect it?

    Jamie.

    –

  9. Rob Van G: “I eventually gave up newsgroup supporting because…”

    JamieC: I eventually gave up newsgroup supporting because the groups seemed to become question and answer sessions rather than the discussion groups they once were. Three people, Tom, Bob and some young upstart would simultaneously post an answer, I’d post a reply to the newbie about why I thought their answer was below par but newbie would never post back (unless the OP had thanked them personally). Newbie would go on to churn out the same below par answer on another occasion, never entering into a discussion about the best answer for the OP (OK, so now I knew they had me on kill file). It seemed it was about getting as high as possible in Debra Dalgleish’s Top Posters list more than anything else.

    The best discussions can now be found in the blogs. The downside of this is the shear number of blogs. Anyone got an Excel ‘blog watch’ site out there that can bring the interesting discussions to my attention?

    Jamie.

    –

  10. Man, I wish I hadn’t seen this; I’m actually working on a few things that actually stand a chance of being productive. I hold you responsible, Von Pookie!!

    Okay, so the MVP program is succumbing to n00bs who don’t really know how to use Excel? And I suppose I should also short my long positions in the Microsoft Corporation? Shall I jump off a bridge, while I’m at it?

    I suspect the answer in both cases is…. No; I disagree. Perhaps even more sadly, I know each and every person you guys are alluding to…

    The list can be found here:

    https://mvp.support.microsoft.com/communities/mvplist.aspx?Product=Microsoft+Office+Excel

    Kudos, though; nicely crafted rant, actually made me cringe at one point. Well, back to my, potentially, productive endeavours. ;p

    Happy Trails,
    Nathan P.

  11. I believe it will be more productive if the discussion could be maintained on a professional level.

    Apparently staffmembers at MrExcel seems to have an issue with it which I’m the first to regret.

    My sincerely apologize if I have hurt Your feelings Nathan ;)

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  12. Hello,

    My comments here should not be associated with any of the forums I participate in. Why would they be? Why would you bring that up?

    I’m not a staff member at MrExcel.com, Dennis. I am a member and I volunteer to help keep the board flowing.

    I also participate in quite a few others, including OzGrid.com, UtterAccess.com, XtremeVBTalk.com, VBAExpress.com, TheOfficeExperts.com, the NewsGroups… Have I forgotten one? Some more than others… As with the first case, I’m not a ‘staffer’ at any of these forums; my goal is simply to help people, perhaps teaching and learning…

    It’s a hobby, not a profession. ;)

    While I was taken a-back by this blog entry (although there might be some merit to your opinion), you haven’t hurt my feelings. I should have used less sarcasm, and I apologize for that.

    But my opinion remains the same, overall, I disagree.

    Excel itself (we’ll see post V. 12) might be somewhat stale, but the group as a whole strikes me as being pretty strong when it comes to using Excel and helping others, as we know Excel today. You voiced your opinion, and this is mine.

    I suspect that I shouldn’t have jumped into this, perhaps I shall attempt to jump out.

    Cheers,
    Nathan

  13. I agree with Jamie Collins on the fact that “the MVP status is not transparent enough…”.

    I recently became independant consultant, mainly in high voltage engineering, but I also want to develop the Excel side of my business too.

    Over the past few years, I’ve been reading as much as I could about Excel in books, on websites, in articles, while at the same time I’ve always been involved in Excel development throughout my “electrical career”, mainly in technical areas (Excel & RS232, Planning Tools,…).

    In the companies I’ve worked for, I’m considered to be an Excel expert (whatever that means). So, obviously, I’ve looked at ways to make that “expert” thing kind of “official”, and so I learned about the MVP program.

    But the ways to become MVP are not clearly defined. Yeah, you have to contribute to MS monitored Excel communities, but how how long, how frequent, is not mentioned anywhere. I even asked one MVP directly how she (she is not a mistake) became MVP, and I didn’t get any real helpful indication…

    In the end, I decided the MVP program isn’t worth the trouble. You could be “contributing” for ages without ever getting the MVP award…

    Bart

  14. Nathan,

    “I should have used less sarcasm, and I apologize for that.”

    Your apologize accepted and I have no problems to accept that we disagree.

    After all, that may hopefully bring the development forward in a positive way :)

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  15. Have you fellows thought of starting your own “Association”? Membership would be by vote or approval of current members. You could have a website that would mostly be for linking to the websites of your members.

    Just a thought

    Ernie K.

  16. Interesting post Dennis
    I’ve always thought the MVP as being an award given by MS for contribution to the MS community.

    The MCSD is a qualification earned by technical competency, and the old Excel MCP when they had it(retired 1997?).

    I see the 2 as totally different things. Often the best teachers are not the best do-ers, in most things and certainly in software.

    I think its great that MS recognise the contribution of some, but of course some are missed or miss judged maybe, but I would never take an MVP as proof of technical competence – there is nothing for that in Excel and hasn’t been for years. On line footprint is what counts for me, Google name+Excel and you get a good idea of where a persons knowledge starts and ends.

    Many MVPs are technically good, but I don’t see it as a prerequisite. MVPs add value by telling new users about scroll lock and manual calc, just as much as explaining the complexities of ADO to hardcore developers. Like the rest of us, as long as they know their limits…

    So do I think the program has declined? no

    Do i think MVP stands for technical excellence? no, but I never did, maybe you did? If so I think you have been over sold. Although I do sense a hint of encouragement from MS for the idea that MVPs are the pinnacle of knowledge. They are probably more accurately the pinnacle of (MS approved?) knowledge sharing.

    I think we should be pushing for the resurrection of respectable Excel developer qualifications as a separate standalone challenge, disconnected from the MVP thing, and from the MOUS qualification. In fact why not go the whole hog and have a Professional Association of Spreadsheet Developers, as per the many other professional bodies?
    If there is enough interest I would be happy to help set one up, but only if the core principles are what Dennis thought the MVP program was about originally.
    cheers
    Simon

  17. Simon,

    If there is enough interest I would be happy to help set one up, but only if the core principles are what Dennis thought the MVP program was about originally.
    [/quote]

    Sounds excellent to me and You got a very good point when You refer to the MCSD and the previously MCP for Excel(1995?).

    Thank You for a refreshing input on the subject.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  18. Hi, guys. I’d like to share something with you. I realize it could be taken badly–I’m not sure. One of the reasons I wrote the email below was because an MVP said to me (as I remember it) “Microsoft wrongly believes they know everyone who’s good with their apps”. Given that, along with the discouragement of being passed over yet again, I wrote this email to mvpga@ms

    [start quote]
    Please forgive me for contacting you directly, but I’m terribly confused. Has no one ever nominated me to become an MVP? If not, I’d like to nominate myself.

    A friend of mine was recently nominated. Several friends of mine have already become MVPs. None of these friends have participated nearly as much and/or as long as I have in providing free support of Microsoft Office products. Of course, I don’t begrudge them the honor at all, but don’t understand why I seem to keep being passed up. Did I make someone mad? :)

    I suspect that the best category for me would be “Microsoft Office” or perhaps Word. When I go to the Microsoft Office MVP list, I recognize only the name of Bob Buckland. When I search for their names, along with Microsoft at Google (NOT the newsgroups), I am appalled at the minimum number of hits compared to my own; I have ten times the number of hits of the highest one:

    Exact Google Search: Hits

    “Bob Buckland” Microsoft 999

    “Jonathan Holmes” Microsoft 229

    “George Moldova” Microsoft 108

    “Susan Ramlet” Microsoft 1440

    “Graham Wideman” Microsoft 799

    “Anne Troy” Microsoft 14,800

    If you search “Dreamboat”, which is my online moniker, along with Microsoft, you get 32,700 hits.

    So, how would one become an “Office MVP”?

    If you’re interested at all, I have attached a Word document containing a list of accomplishments that I believe should qualify as an Office MVP. I surely hope you don’t see me as being incredibly arrogant. Quite the contrary: I want the award so I don’t have to pay for Office 12. I am on Social Security, and can’t really afford the software anymore. :(

    ~Anne Troy
    http://www.myexpertsonline.com
    215-536-3790
    [end quote]

    Here’s the document I submitted along with this email:
    http://www.officearticles.com/temp/mvp.doc
    (I altered the document by one small line that might have hurt someone’s feelings.)

    So…with all that, I don’t mean at all to make this post about me, but to indicate why I have to agree with Dennis about the program’s validity, though my argument is kind of in the opposite direction.

    I’ve very much enjoyed reading everyone’s posts! I’m not a regular here, but I often point to a few of the articles here as solutions.

    ~Anne Troy

  19. >I think we should be pushing for the resurrection of respectable Excel developer qualifications as a separate standalone challenge

    YES YES YES YES PLEASE!!! I’ve been working in Excel for many years -but I don’t have the time (sorry) to post on the discussion boards/forums. Some way to get an official XL qualification/recognition would be great – and it might give us a way to prove to the people who are convinced that all XL users/developers are not real programmers that they are wrong!

  20. Dennis

    Wow. I think everyone just noted the presence of that elephant in the corner … although I found it a little too hard hitting at times, I think you have raised some excellent points.

    When I began ascending the VBA learning curve a few years ago, I associated the MVP program with excellent technical skills, cutting edge code and high quality books/websites. But the goalposts have moved in recent times – I guess the real question is what does this shift mean and is it a bad thing? And what do the earlier MVP’s think?

    Jamie also raises a pertinent point, for an award that is supposedly given out annually, some of those names have been very quiet for a long time

    Cheers

    Dave

  21. Dennis
    Could it be that as you have developed your own skills the work of some others becomes less impressive?

    I know some people I used to think were Gods when I started- now I look at their code and think ‘I would just not accept that in a commercial project’

    just a thought
    cheers
    Simon

  22. Simon,

    I can understand what You point out but it’s not a question about my own level vs the MVP group.

    I try hard to consider the development from a more ‘objective’ point of view and not get into a ‘personalized’ situation.

    During the 90’s a great framework with Excel was made by people within the MSFT’s newsgroup, where most of them also became MVPs due to their, at that time, outstanding work. The focus was set to Excel only.

    Of course, the first and second generation of Excel MVPs at that time indirectly set up the level for being considered as ‘MVP material’

    Late 90’s and early 2000 the next step was to adapt Windows API, automation of Excel through mainly classic VB and also dataexchange between Excel and databases. This development was mainly driven by the same group of MVPs. Around this time and also later some of the new MVPs at that time contributed with deeper knowledge when it comes to Excel chart’s capability and a deeper knowledge within special areas such as numerical analysis.

    The conclusion so far is that the above development to high degree reflected the business driven development (and needs for professional solutions).

    From around 2000 and forward we face a total different situation where Excel is part of a wider context and is a brick in corporate solutions such as BI-solutions et al.

    I recently created a roadmap which reflect how I see the context Excel is today part of:
    http://www.xldennis.com/ExcelKBPictures/roadmap.gif

    From what I can see and from what I can understand I conclude that:

    It’s still the first and second generation who drive the development. This is best described by refering to the book Professional Excel Development (2005) by Stephen Bullen, Rob Bovey and John Green (for a review please see http://vbaexpress.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2189).

    When lurking around on the global virtual Excel forums and MSFT’s newsgroups I can only echo Rob’s and Jamie’s comments in this post which I also fully agree with.

    I also conclude that no one of the new MVPs have pushed the development or taken any responsibility to drive the development of Excel in view of the roadmap.

    As already pointed out in the comments the global Excel community don’t know who they are…

    The gap between what actually is going on in the business life and what is going on (or more precisely the lack) in the MVP-group is growing fast.

    So when I raised the question how come I came to the insight and conclusion which in turn lead to the initial post about the MVP-program. When I started to discuss the subject with people who have insight in other MVP groups it turned out to be the same situation in other groups as well.

    Based on the majority of the comments here I conclude that I’m not alone.

    Please continue to discuss the issue without involving individuals as it will defeat the purpose of the discussion.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  23. Dave: “Jamie also raises a pertinent point, for an award that is supposedly given out annually, some of those names have been very quiet for a long time”

    Jamie C: I was purposely presenting a biased view there. Consider that some MVPs may have been quite in public forums but despite (or perhaps because of) this they have been active behind the scenes (e.g. beta testing for MSFT) on an NDA basis.

    Jamie.

    –

  24. I’m one of those newbies who post questions that are generally re-routed to a previously posted answer.

    You know what? I looked. I searched. I couldn’t find the sucker. That’s why I posted.

    My apologies to those who have seen it all and more, but really, if I spend 15 minutes searching, I’m going to post because most likely I’ll have an answer that works for me in another 10 minutes.

    By the way, this is an awesome discussion. I love seeing the differing views from the “experts.”

  25. Stacie,
    No apology required, no one has a problem with self-confessed newbies such as yourself. Well done for searching before you post, many don’t bother.

    As Chip Pearson himself says, one of the best things about being an MVP is (or at least was) that he gets the email addresses of all the MVPs, even the non-Excel ones. In other words, when he has a question and his 15 minutes search is fruitless, he doesn’t need to post because he has a hotline to the gurus!

    Many of the MVPs and other experts have been kind enough to engage with me in personal emails (Dick K, Chip P and Bob P are standouts worthy of mention but please don’t bother these busy people on my account). That said, it I prefer to post questions because I like a good discussion.

    Jamie.

    –

  26. Anne T,
    I find this a very intriguing subject, too.

    I’ve no idea what the selection process involves but the allusion to ‘nominations’ leads me to suspect that key members may effectively ‘blackball’ a nominee. Perhaps this is what has blocked your seemingly deserved entry?

    I’m very impressed with you candid petition to MSFT (but you do realize you probably burned you bridges, right?) There must be many like yourself (but probably with a less impressive résumé, I must add) over the years who have asked themselves, “Why not me?”

    I should point out that many MVPs reading this thread will feel obviously unable to contribute due to NDAs or just wishing to retain a dignified silence. It all adds to the intrigue though, doesn’t it ;) ?

    Jamie.

    –

  27. Rob Van G: “99% of questions asked have a solution on Chip Pearson’s website”

    Jamie C: I think it was Dorothy Parker who said:

    “Never try to take the credit / We’ll all assume Chip Pearson said it.”

    Jamie.

    –

  28. agreed. they give mvps out in christmas crackers now. not worth the paper its written on. very absorbant though.

  29. Dennis, I had a real hard time with this post. I have the utmost respect for you and your opinions, but I don’t know if I can agree with them here.

    For the past couple of months, I have read a great deal on the MVP program to figure out exactly what it is. At the beginning of my quest for knowledge, I assumed also that the MVPs were simply the brightest technical minds of the Excel world, despite the fact that many of them I had never even heard of. I wrote that off to not being a newsgroup poster, but now I am beginning to wonder.

    The program has been in place for over eleven years now, and I’ll admit that I wasn’t around at the time it started, only joining the forum world three years ago. Given the timeline, however, it makes sense that the real groundbreakers in the field would have earned the first MVP designations, and now others are also being awarded.

    Let’s face it, in the 90’s the internet was not nearly as accessible as it is now. There was a far more select group of users who found each other and began pushing each other to higher boundaries. Once the internet explodes and the market becomes more saturated, those original experts stand out even more. They, of course, continue to learn while the rest of us catch up. We should also consider that since Excel 97 there has not been much development to the product, unless you consider the upgrade from VBA 5 to 6 in Office 2000.

    Given the above, what do you expect? Eventually the ground breaking is going to cease, as the product has matured, and the wealth of new uses has been somewhat tapped out. I’m not saying there’s not some gems left undiscovered, only that the majority of things probably have been.

    Now I never saw any previous definitions, but if your stance of the past is truly reflective of what it was, then the MVP program has evolved. This is also a necessary step, or it would become a casualty of time. For any program to be successful, it must reinvent itself to keep current. Given the wealth of knowledge out there, it is now in the phase where it is taking different individuals to share the knowledge of how to use it well, rather than invent the new ways from scratch.

    On MS’s site, they have an explanation of what the MVP program currently is, rather than what you feel it was: https://mvp.support.microsoft.com/mvpintro
    “MVPs are credible, technology experts from around the world who inspire others to learn and grow through active technical community participation. While MVPs come from many backgrounds and a wide range of technical communities, they share a passion for technology and a demonstrated willingness to help others. MVPs do this through the books and articles they author; the Web sites they manage; the blogs they maintain; the user groups they participate in; the chats they host or contribute to; the events and training sessions where they present, as well as through the questions they answer in technical newsgroups or message boards.”

    “Microsoft MVPs are simply an amazing group of individuals. We are excited to recognize and award MVPs as our way of saying “thank you” for their demonstrated commitment to helping others in technical communities around the globe.”

    To me “credible technology experts” does not mean a crew of the six top people, it means people who understand more of the program than most people, and can inspire and guide the work of others. Their credibility is derived by generating solutions that work, and possibly with their attitude towards others in the process. I am not, by any means, saying that they shouldn’t know Excel VERY well, as they should. I’m just saying that they shouldn’t necessarily need to know how to leverage API calls to do things that aren’t native, for example.

    Dennis, your perspective is focused on rewarding those who push the knowledge of a select few to a higher level. Microsoft’s philosophy now is to reward those individuals who share that knowledge with the global community. Both are commendable, and both are necessary. There will always be experts in any industry who are the elite of the crowd. Many of us will always look up to them, but they are not the be all and end all of the world.

    Probably the biggest thing that bothers me is that you haven taken aim at the young, many of whom I have met and are quite talented. These people may grow into your next elite, or they may not, but their contributions to overall Excel knowledge have helped many. Just because they are young is not a reason to scoff at them. Many of them possess far more Excel knowledge than seasoned Excel veterans in the business world.

    With regards to site owners and authors… who has brought more knowledge to more people than them? The web sites and books reach hundreds of thousands of people daily, I’m sure, helping them learn and advance the worldwide competency with the product. They are also the vehicles for us to help, learn, and discuss the best practices that you hold so dear.
    Personally, I find it shameful to level an attack on such gracious contributors to the global community, simply because they haven’t invented something you consider ground-breaking.

    As far as your points about restoring the MVP program, I actually agree somewhat with all of them.
    -On the clean up aspect… it is an annual award. Don’t renew those who do not continue to contribute to the global community in some form.
    -On the lack of appointment I’d reiterate that it is an annual award. If there is no one new whom is suitable, then don’t appoint someone just to fill the role, I agree.
    -As far as support goes, I believe that MS does do this. They train their MVPs and allow them access to software, so that should not be an issue. I also agree that they should be encouraged to drive Excel forward as much as possible, but I do not think that the reliance of the program should be based on this fact.

    If we agree to disagree, then that is fair with me, Dennis, but I really feel that you are looking back at the “Good Old Days” and not looking forward into the future with this.

    Ken

  30. If I recall correctly, the MVP program started off in the early ’90s as a recognition given to a handful of individuals who answered questions in the forums run by Compuserve, including the MSExcel forum. The first set of awardees included names like Jim Rech, Bill Manville and Rob Bovey (forgive me, but I’ve forgotten the others). Those individuals were (and still are) technically brilliant, amazingly helpful and always trying to push the boundaries of what their tools can do. The ethos and respect of the MVP program was created by these people. For the first five years or so, the awarding of the MVP designation was primarily driven by the existing MVPs recommending to Microsft that other people were sufficiently skilled and deserving to be invited to join the club. That meant there was an informal quality bar that new awardees had to achieve, it was the existing awardees who were judges and it was very rare to not have a unanimous verdict.

    The relationship between the awardees and the award was symbiotic; the awardees were proud to have received the recognition of their peers and the staus attributed to the award continued to grow to reflect the combined skills and attituted of the awardees. In that respect, it was the Nobel Prize of the Excel world; anyone could study and cram to get an MCP or MCSD, but being given the MVP award told you that you were considered to be amongst the best of the best in the world at what you do.

    The problem with that model was that it didn’t scale well; it relied on the existing MVPs knowing the entire community. As soon as the ‘global community’ expanded beyond the compuserve forums and newsgroups, into mail lists, web-based forums and portals, blogs, etc, it became impossible for the existing MVPs to keep track of everyone involved; great contributors were being missed and deserving people went unrewarded.

    The only way that the support network of the MVP award could expand to meet the needs of the global community was for Microsoft to take over the monitoring, nomination and judgement of potential awardees. There was no way that the Microsoft staff could be as technically skilled as the MVPs and were simply not qualified to pass technical judgment, so over some years the emphasis changed from being primary about technical ability to being primarily about providing support for the community, in whatever form.

    So now, we have some MVPs who answer nearly all the questions in the Microsoft newsgroups, some who only answer questions in a few web-based forums, some who contribute their knowledge to the community by writing books, through blogs or articles and examples on their web sites, some who primarily facilitate the above by hosting the forums etc, some who concentrate on representing the community to Microsoft (usually under NDA), some who concentrate on local user groups and are rarely online and some who do a little of everything (like me!). We’ve all been given the MVP award by Microsoft as a way of them saying “Thanks for doing what you do to help the community of Microsoft users”.

    So yes, I’m sad that the award no longer commands the respect it once did, in that an answer from an MVP is no longer the guarantee of correctness it effectively once was and the MVP award is no longer something that people aspire to achieve. I’m also sad that we need to discuss whether or not individuals that Microsoft has decided to award really deserve it; the days when the award reflected the quality of the awardees are long gone and we all need to realise that the MVP award is no more nor less than Microsoft’s way of publicly saying thanks.

    Ultimately, we all do what we do because we want to do it, not because we think Microsoft might give us an award for it. The fact that we are given an award is great (thanks!), in that it opens a few doors to help us do better what we do anyway, and occasionally provides a little encouragement when deciding how to share out the demands on our limited time.

    When I asked last year “Where’s the innovation?”, my conclusion was that nobody was really pushing the limits and exploring the boundaries any more. The Excel MVPs of 10 years ago know what works and what doesn’t and have generally been slow to adopt XML, VSTO, BI and the rest because our initial testing has put them in the bucket of “not yet ready for production use” and nobody’s proven us wrong.

  31. Ken,

    Many thanks for Your post which I highly appreciate.

    “If we agree to disagree, then that is fair with me, Dennis, but I really feel that you are looking back at the “Good Old Days” and not looking forward into the future with this.”

    Yes, nice to see that we can agree that we disagree in a pleasent way (my inbox is on the other hand full with…).

    If I would look back to the “good ol’ days’ I would probably be out of business within a month or so. At least when it comes to my largest worldwide clients.

    Ken, I don’t ask You to reconsider but take a look on the roadmap I added in my previous post and give it a thought. Then comment it in view of what have been said.

    It’s a total different issues on the agenda then to just boost up an ‘ol good SUMPRODUCT’.

    Yes, I’m the first one to agree that there are lot of talent people out there but I wish that more of them would take a look around them and to discover the present and future roadmap.

    Again, thanks for Your good comment.

    Kind regards,
    Dennis

  32. I totally agree with what Jon Peltier said, we’re seeing new batches of MVPs that are just completely absent from the general community.

    The latest batch of MVPs from some groups are people that don’t turn up in a Google search. At all. That’s a measuring stick I tend to use. If someone shows up signficantly in either the web or ngs, then they have some presence (at least in the known world we inhabit). When some MVPs produce no hits (or very few) I have to wonder how much they’re really contributing and what impact they have on the community. It’s a tough question of what the community is, as I’ve heard some MVPs refer to the community as their clients.

    I also agree that having authors become MVPs is a bit odd, unless that author has some significant book *AND* has been contributing to the community through other outlets (say like Rocky Lhotka). There are too many 1-hit authors that are becoming MVPs but yet a) don’t seem to follow up with their intial book offering and b) don’t seem to be anywhere in the world except your local bookstore.

    P.S. Yes, I’m also an MVP

  33. Hey, Stephen – I was among the very first Excel MVP’s — even earlier — there was something called the SWAT team, led by Will Tompkins! Bob Greenblatt (now a Mac MVP) was also in the initial group.
    Lately I’ve pretty much given up hope on being able to be the first to respond, because, as noted, Tom Ogilvy and others will certainly beat me to the punch. They do it while I’m typing my answer! It’s a bit undaunting. There used to be about 15 of us; now there are, what, 50? 75? And nearly 2000 MVP’s in all areas.
    So I agree, the status is not what it once was. But I really enjoy the Summit, the meeting of the fellow MVP’s (I got my current job because I knew Jim Rech via the MVP program & we work maybe 200 feet from each other), the perks, the sharing of knowledge, the sharing of things like “am I the only one who hates Excel 12 UI” and realizing I’m not, etc.

  34. Ok, sorry, just coming up to speed and I have not read this whole thread. I did read #31 from Ken which I thought was pretty good. For the record, I’m the global director for the MVP program at Microsoft. I’ll not try to answer every point, as the I think the community discussion is a good one. Let me start with Kids…well, age and intellect are clearly unrelated. But that said, of the ~3000 MVPs world wide, the number under age 18(although we don’t ask age data today) would like not fill the fingers on one of my hands.

    Technical excellence. MVPs do tend to represent a great deal of technical excellence, but the program was designed to acknowledge and thank community contribution not measure technical acumen. As a company we may have more to do on how we measure/certify technical acumen, but that is not the job of the MVP program.

    Authors and webmasters. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Those who only host and don’t answer questions of users in communities you are right, are not MVPs. Those who author and do nothing else in communities are likely not MVPs. Have we made some mistakes in the past. Sure. We then work to correct them. Will we make more in the future…sure, I hope not many, but award programs by definition have some degree of subjectivity.

    Do I think the program is too big? No. Too small. No. It is the size it is. Our job is to look for and acknowledge those deserving of recognition. We have 100’s of millions of users in over 100 countries in dozens of languages. The fact that there could legitimately be 30, 40, 50, 60 to recognize in some technologies is representative of the diversity of global presence of communities and there tremendous growth the past 10 years.

    I agree the list is not transparent. This web site is not my vehicle to make program announcements, but we will address this in the months ahead (I’ll say June).

    I agree with the clean up point, that is a continual process we do. Not sure I like that term for it, but ok. I also agree some years it should not grow or maybe should shrink. In fact last Nov. there were fewer MVPs than last April (by about 100 globally). I do agree with the encourage to be the driving force across Excel. Our job with the program is to say thanks. MVPs are not obligated or expected to evangelize MS products – in my view that would do permanent damage to the program.

    We are not perfect, we’ve awarded some we shouldn’t have and we have missed many I’m sure we should have. We will provide a way to people to help tell us more formally about who we should recognize…another non-announcement (think June).

    I probably missed many good points above and did not write everything here I probably should, but I did want to be a part of the dialog.

    Thanks,
    Sean O’Driscoll
    Global Director
    MVP Program
    Microsoft Corp.

  35. I personnally don’t know (or much care) who is an MVP. If you hang around these sites enough it becomes rather obvious in a short period of time who the true MVP’s are… Oddly enough most of the true MVP’s are also MVP’s. Is the system perfect… Probably not.

    I have found that MVP cover an intersting cross section of the community. Stephen and John write books. Dick hosts this forum and Tom and Bob answer question on the new group. In their own areas they are are all at the cutting edge of Excel. They all make valuable contributions. I think the preceeding arguments all revolve around the word “Most”.

  36. Bob
    I am sooo relived to read your last line!!
    It looks like they are trying to squeeze Excel into a Word interface. Odd – one is a word processor, one is a software development tool.

    Anyway back to the discussion

    Dennis
    Fair point on driving things forward I see much better what you mean now.
    I don’t follow the MVP thing so I have no idea, but I still think there is a vibrant lively development community around Excel (By the sound of it no longer driven by MVPs). On the Excel-l we had a great Excel User Conference last year (MS declined to attend) and there is another in the US in April and one in the UK in July. Based on discussions I have already had there should be some sort of professional association around that time. Probably half a dozen in fact!!

    cheers
    Simon

  37. I like the idea of a professional Excel Dev association

    What would that look like and what would the qualifications be and who would decide on inductees? Or would it be more like a fee simple membership?

    doco

  38. A few comments I wanted to address:

    Dennis, as I said to you in an email, I have read your roadmap, and I do agree with it. To my mind, Excel is THE data analysis tool of the future. I have constantly been on the vendor of our database system to make it SQL compliant, so that I can use Excel to retrieve and analyze my data the way I want to. Whenever they get it to me in that format, I will be trying to expand my knowledge in that area. Will I be blazing new technical ground? I doubt it. But contributing in other forms, I hope so.

    Stephen, thank you also for your post. It was an extremely interesting read, and I’m glad you took the time to type it up. I do have a comment on the following, however:

    “So yes, I’m sad that the award no longer commands the respect it once did, in that an answer from an MVP is no longer the guarantee of correctness it effectively once was and the MVP award is no longer something that people aspire to achieve.”

    I don’t necessarily agree with this. I, for one, will go on record as saying that it is something I DO aspire to achieve, and hope that my peers one day find me worthy of it. While I respect the answers that the MVPs give, I and many others have come to realize that even they are human, and do not know all aspects of the program. It is simply too vast.

    There is a way, however, to maintain the current format of the MVP program, and also acknowledge and honour the elite users in the same way as was past. If you’ll humour me and let me give you some history of the accounting professions, I can explain it.

    My accounting designation and the MVP program have some similarities… you work hard to earn the honour, and you have to pay your dues annually to retain your membership. I pay mine in dollars, MVPs pay theirs in other ways, be it posts, books, etc… Both also have their superstars, regulars and, unfortunately, a few who sneak in that probably shouldn’t be there. I trust in my organization, as we should in Microsoft, that those individuals are exposed and removed, lest they tarnish reputations.

    Now when the various accounting bodies were formed, they also would have been formed by the elite practitioners of the world. As they began to train and bring in other professionals in to their fold they ran into the same issues that you and Stephen have identified. The trailblazers seemed to lose status amongst their new peers.

    The answer to this was to add another recognition level. Every year there is a process where we can recognize those superstars who have advanced accounting knowledge or otherwise contributed far beyond the regular members of the society. They are called Fellows, and wear an extra letter in their designation. For the CMA society, they become FCMA’s. This is a truly prestigious award, as it is bestowed by your peers and is only awarded to the elite of the profession.

    I believe that this is something that could work very well for Microsoft as well. Why not add “elite” to make an EMVP designation for great achievement or breakthroughs? Voted on by the MVPs only, this would ensure that it is the recognition of the best of the pool of talent, by those who are truly qualified to assess them. It would be a life time recognition that the recipient could be truly proud of.

    With regards to the question of whether the MVPs should be leading the field, I am now kind of mixed on this. In the MVP pool, Microsoft has found some incredible volunteers who are willing to learn and share their discoveries with the world. They get access to software and training that many of us cannot afford, and with those tools, should be capable of doing great things. Should they be required to, though? I’d argue not. But I’d be willing to bet that some would, and would eventually go on to earning a fellowship, should that level be added.

    This direction, of course, is up to Microsoft to decide. We all know that the MVP program will only get bigger over time. My feeling, however, is that this would be a great move that would restore some of the original MVPs faith in the system, as well as encourage others to forge new ground as well.

    I’m curious to know everyone’s thoughts on this, including yours, Mr. O’Driscoll. :)

  39. With regards to leading the field…on that, I can’t be more clear. There should be NO forward looking obligations for MVPs just because they were recognized for what they did the past year. Just because Clint Eastwood makes Million Dollar Baby one year, should he be procluded from another spaghetti western? (maybe not the best analogy:)). The point is it is an award, MVPs can and should go forward and do what they do – including being critical of MS products and technologies as they see fit. To me, an expectation of support from them in the communities, or worse yet, outright evangelism of MS products would destroy the integrity of an independent expert. So, you can be assured a forward looking expectation will never be a part of the MVP program. Microsoft has other programs designed to support partners – that is not what this is designed to do. On this point, I think you’d have a hard time finding an MVP in disagreement with me. In fact, I’ve watched poor, unsuspecting MS people refer to MVPs (in front of a group of them) as evangelists – it is an ugly scene – a sure way to demonstrate to MVPs you don’t understand them. Think of it in the following way (and I think important for MS people to remember): MVPs do what they do in communities to help users, they don’t do it to help Microsoft. This is to me the essence of what defines an MVP.

    To the idea of EMVP. On the surface I like the idea, but it does run the risk of a popularity contest. I suppose there would be ways to manage that. It would in some ways contribute to an elitism that might not be healthy. I think community works because the notion is about peer contribution. To me the MVP award is not about creating a class system, it is more basic than that. At its root, it is to say thanks. Perhaps the community has an expectation of elitism from this group, my suspicion is if that is true it is not ideal/good – and while I can’t speak on behalf of all MVPs, I bet many would agree with me in saying they would not like this sort of tiering in the program. I don’t know though, it is a fair topic. Another thought on this comes from experience we have with “boards” or creating “councils” – I wouldn’t call our experience with that (which in fairness was before my time) a good one based on MVPs I’ve talked to about it – for some of the same reasons I highlighted above.

    One last thought you remind me of, but I haven’t spoken/written of recently (and not sure I have ever written about this in a public forum). I have always believed that MS played too big a role in the identification and selection of who is awarded as MVPs. I think in a perfect world, community participants would decide this in some way – or at a minimum have equal to greater weight in the process as Microsoft. I’m sure someone will think through this and describe a great way to do it, but before prescribing a solution, let me tell you this is extremely difficult to do and have the result be any better. Reputation based systems have been discussed, but can be gamed. And worse yet, you have people who then go to community and participate only to become an MVP (to manufacture the award – to me, that is not a true MVP). We also have MVPs in over 80 countries, across 75+ Microsoft technologies and in 9 different native languages. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done, but very difficult with no guarantee of a better result. We do have some thoughts on moving closer to that approach which we will be addressing this year (but again, this site isn’t my announcements forum:)).

    I guess that’s it for now. Oh, and call me Sean, Mr. O’Driscoll is my Dad’s name. Of course now I feel compelled to say I’m 35…don’t want anyone to think there’s a “nice, young Kid” here running the program:)

  40. Stehpen

    You’re right, as long as the MVP-program stand for other aspects then quality then the real potential ‘MVP materials’ gracefully avoid to be part of the community. The fall of the MVP-program will only continue which

    Simon,

    confirm and

    Ken,

    Because there is no need as the present MVP-program actually cover it by having an A-team (true MVPs) and a B-team (pseudo MVPs).

    Sean,

    I both agree and disagree at the same time. In order to help the community their platform must rely on
    a) experience
    b) core knowledge and
    c) be able to judge what is quality and not.

    The lack of the above defeat the purpose for individual MVPs if they don’t measure up. As a consequence it will ‘on the surface’ look like that they only represent MSFT.

    For independed individuals with the above ‘properties’ they can act and be independely from MSFT and they have the respect in the community and the community will pay attention to them because we know what they stand for.

    By shaping up the terms of the MVP-program You can achieve what You states and I can agree on it.

    No ‘system’ is perfect and will never be. I’m not sure that it’s a realistic target to achieve at all.

    The only guide to make sure that the ‘system’ stand for something is to create and maintain quality. The quality work is a never ending process and as long as the focus is set on quality I believe the majority of all the members in the global community can agree and support the ‘system’.

    The above finish my engagement in this discussion as I conclude that my target with the discussion has been achieved and I thank everyone who have participated and read the discussion. I explicit thank Sean for his willingness to active participate here which is highly appreciated.

    As long as it exist an ongoing public discussion and a constructive dialog I’m convinced that something good will come of it.

    In view of what have been said and discussed in this thread I hope that it will lead to some changes.

    I would like to come back to this subject next year with the question ‘any changes?’

    All the very best to all of You,
    Dennis

  41. There are a large number of people who make a greater or lesser contribution to the Excel community. Its one of the reasons for Excel’s continuing success.

    There are a handful or so of people who are the real Excel Gurus IMHO. We would probably pretty much agree who they are (well the english-speaking ones anyway). Most but not all of them are MVPs.

    The MVP list and the Guru list are not the same: the criteria are different-

    I dont see the point in complaining that apples are not oranges.

  42. I used to think “what a scam” MVP’s get inside info so they have fast track to 34.99|49.99|24.99 (USD|CD|Pound Sterling). However, I am now ever greatfull there are MVP’s who then publish their knowledge.

    I am currently going through a software conversion and for those of you have lived through this know it’s not fun. One of the most perplexing issues I have to deal with is the lack of documentation beyond canned help files.

    Therefore, IMHO, I think it doubtfull the “psuedo MVP” will publish beyond awkward comment in the ngs or forums or blogs. For this I will be ever greatfull to the MVPs who are tagged with the suffix AUTHOR

    You know who you are and I thank you, yes and still grumble at the bookstore check out. ;o) The cream always rises to the top! (I think it is a law Newton missed)

    doco

  43. Very useful and interesting thread. There are a number of points I’d like to make:

    1. For me the key to the whole MVP program is summed up by Sean O’Driscoll in his phrase – “the program was designed to acknowledge and thank community contribution not measure technical acumen.”

    That says it all – and I do not say that in a perjorative way. It also explains, to some extent, why you Dennis, feel that it is no longer what it was. Going back a few years there were few ‘experts’ in Excel. They were rare ‘animals’. With the current ubiquity of Excel it means there are probably millions of users. Inevitably there will be some very clever users who may also be quite young. The general level of technical ability on Excel has, not surprisingly, grown enormously. So it is not unexpected that there are many more MVP candidates than in the past. That does not diminish the older MVP’s in any way. However just how many of those new ‘good’ people help others in virtual communities, as opposed to just in their own normal day’s work, is another matter.

    2. The whole discussion reminds me of promotions in organisations (inc. churches, schools and businesses). Some senior people find it hard to accept that there are new much younger candidates for the senior positions – after all they are not as experienced so by definition they are not worthy of promotion. I think one must accept that as one gets older there are always people snapping at one’s heels and ready to take over the reins. And they may be 35 years younger than one’s self – that’s life.

    3. As for the giving of the award and who is considered, I think MS could well adopt a straightforward system:

    a. One of the starts MS need to make is to introduce an ‘MVP Citation website’. It should make it open to anyone to make a citation for someone else. There could be a whole range of questions and a request for not just reasons for the citation but also for references and links to published work – or evidence. It would be up to MS to filter them and to decide how to proceed. It’s not a new concept but it but it could be made to work very simply and well. The whole IT community could participate so making it a global process.

    b. I also believe that the status of MVP should only ever be awarded for a given year. So it should always be, for example, ‘Excel MVP 2006’.

    c. Unless there are strong complaints about an MVP, that award should be renewed automatically for just 3 years. The holder then being permitted to quote ‘Excel MVP 2006’, ‘Excel MVP 2007’, ‘Excel MVP 2007’ as appropriate for the current year. After that it should only be awarded if there are new citations for an individual.

    d. A list of all MVPs should be made available on the ‘MVP Citation website’. That list should also state clearly when the award was first made/renewed. That serves to remind readers just how long someone has been an MVP as well as a reminder of when it is next due for renewal (if a citation is received). MS could also invite citations from the original recommenders as well as from references quoted in the most recent citation.

    Finally, MVP awards should, in my view, only ever be given to those that have helped the wider community use to greater effect an MS application. Those that just work at their own company and do not go that ‘extra mile’ to help others outside of their own company should not be considered. That inevitably means that consultants, trainers, vendors and other helpers are rather more likely to be given an ‘MVP 2006’ award than good people working just in a company. However if someone is responsible for helping those in a very large organisation on many different sites, then that could be considered.

    Would I like to be contribute to and be part of MS’s ‘new’ MVP award system – you bet!

  44. Great discussion.

    Stephen – Excellent post (pun not really intended, but then I didn’t go back and change it). This exemplifies an MVP: thoughtful, respectful, knowledgeable, insightful, forthright.

    Sean – I’m thrilled to see MS represented in the discussion. I have one comment on one of your thoughts:

    “I have always believed that MS played too big a role in the identification and selection of who is awarded as MVPs. I think in a perfect world, community participants would decide this in some way – or at a minimum have equal to greater weight in the process as Microsoft.”

    From my perspective, the role MS has played in the process has expanded exponentially over the past few years. Let me now dance gingerly around the edges of my NDA. In my early days in the program (I was first awarded in 2001), the MVPs would suggest candidates and discuss them amongst ourselves, and the lead would filter the strongest candidates for nomination. Recently, a list of candidates would be suggested and comments solicited, then the nominees would be named, and it is unclear what effect our comments and suggestions have had on the decisions.

    Then again, it’s Microsoft’s program, and they are using it to say thanks to those it perceives have contributed the most to the user communities. Microsoft’s perception is their reality, just like my perception is my own reality, and ditto for everyone else.

    I didn’t begin contributing to the community with an MVP award as my goal; that was beyond my imagination. I became involved to learn, and when I was able to contribute, I began doing so. People thanking me for my help was enough to ensure further contributions. The existing MVPs noticed my contributions, and judged that I was on target most of the time, and I was nominated. Apparently the paradigm has shifted, and we have to allow room for other forms of contribution to the community.

    My original post here (“Who??”) was merely to point out that it’s not always easy to notice or assess some of these contributions.

  45. Thanks all, this has been a good discussion and some ideas for us to consider. A few steps you’ll see us take forward in the June timeframe (who is an MVP transparency and direct community opportunity to nominate). Some on my team will likely “give me feedback” for sharing these plans now as typically this is not the way we would announce…but, it is my priviledge as the MVP program boss:) Therefore, so be it. I will totally agree that quality is the #1 priority that must always be true in the program. I’m not sure I can effectively write a post that will communicate that truism, but at least I’ve said it (and I say it almost every day to my team). I do believe technical acumen is also key, but no more so than a willingness to share that knowledge in community. As a Microsoft employee, I’m very happy there are Excel experts with a knowledge level of 10 in the industry. But if they are a 10 in the industry but only a 2 in contribution to community, then the MVP program is not for them. If you are a 5 in technical leadership, but a 10 in community…then I think the MVP program needs to pay attention. I don’t know what the threshold is here (it’s not an exact science, I’m just using the analogy. At any rate, I have enjoyed this and was pleased to see the discussion turned towards being constructive. I think we all have the same end goals in mind. I’m always glad to join in discussions about the program, it’s aspirations, it’s future, it’s strengths and challenges and our processes. As the “trustee” of the program for Microsoft, I don’t pretend to know all the answers, but I’ve never been shy about engaging in the dialog. I’m not hard to find (seanod@youknowwhat.com) – feel free to contact me or invite me back to future discussions I may not see.

    Thanks and GO SEAHAWKS!!!! (couldn’t resist…)
    Sean

  46. Sean –

    Thanks for your interaction with this whole topic. It’s good to share thoughts and opinions.

    While we’re sharing opposing views… Not that it matters to me much, but I’m partial to the Steelers.

    – Jon

  47. “Recently, a list of candidates would be suggested and comments solicited, then the nominees would be named, and it is unclear what effect our comments and suggestions have had on the decisions.”

    Unclear, Jon? It’s entirely clear that our comments and suggestions have had ZERO impact on the decisions, which were probably made long before the names were published for comment.

    For the record, I agree with substantially all the points that XL-Dennis made in the original post.

    Sean, if you’re monitoring, this is the major cause of my unhappiness. I concede that this is Microsoft’s program to do with as it will, and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to participate over the past five years. But please don’t tell us that our opinions matter and then completely dismiss them. I can accept not being asked for my opinion, but it’s frustrating to be told repeatedly that my opinion is valued, and then have the existing MVP group’s recommendations be completely ignored.

    I apologize for my bluntness. But based on everything I’ve read from you, I believe that you have an open mind and will make changes where they seem to be warranted. We all don’t always need to see eye-to-eye if we are all working in good faith towards a shared goal.

  48. Dennis,

    With all due respect, I have to disagree with some of the sentiments you appear to express…

    Sean and Stephen have expressed what I’ve previously read and understood as being the criteria for MVPs i.e. (mostly) recognition of a persons willingness to help others but, at the same time, tempered with a reasonable standard of ‘quality’ attached to their responses (after all, in the long run its not very ‘helpful’ to give a poor quality solution to someones problem).

    Initially (in the early days of Excel when it was all fairly ‘new’ to everyone) it may well have been that the MVPs of the time were of a very high standard of excellence compared to the more ordinary user. However those experts have disemminated their knowledge to the general community and the community as a whole has learnt, become wiser and generally benefitted from all this.

    The problem now when cosidering who the leaders in the field are, is that ‘it’s all been done before’, and it’s very difficult for a newcomer to come up with anything that’s really new and better, as most people now only have to adapt the solutions that these leaders made available to the community.

    However, those that take the time to read the contributions of earlier leaders in the field, then maybe learn and adapt these to help solve others problems are not in any way diminished by the fact that “they’re not really doing anything new – they’re just copying so and so’s {insert a name here} code”. Perhaps they are, but they are also skilled enough to recognize that there’s really little you can do to improve on this.

    So what can a relative newcomer do to achieve a high degree of excellence here? – Very little actually, it’s really all been done before. But if they are helping others by expanding on the good practices of the pioneers and disemminating this surely they are no less worthy of an award. After all, there can only be one Isaac Newton, the leaders in the field that came after him may not seem as “great” in comparison, but they were wise enough to recognize that he was right and went on to use and expand on the principles he ‘discovered’… They are likewise in no way diminished.

    Perhaps you’re right that there may currently be a few that appear undeserving of the award, but they were voted on by their peers as being worthy recipients. So who’s right? – One thing’s for sure, I don’t know.

    Regards,
    John :)

  49. Sounds to me like you are referring to a specific situation, I don’t know. You’re welcome to contact me about it. There are issues for how we solicit input. One quite frankly is driven by the privacy laws of many countries we do business in. I’m all for privacy, but it does make this process more difficult and I think MS must be held to a high bar on this. We cannot go out in public and publish names without permission as part of some nomination/feedback process. To get permission first would mean telling a bunch of people they are nominees and then having to go back to them and say, sorry, you did not get selected. This is doable, has some of its own perils, but is NOT in our current plans in terms of a process change. These privacy requirements vary in different parts of the world (most restrictive in Western Europe/Japan/United States). So, if this a solution folks want, I can’t promise a fast one. Beyond that I can quote countless times we have taken opinions in and agreed with them and adjusted. I can also count many times where we took opinion in and disagreed with them. Dismissed and disagreed are two different things. Again, I don’t know the situation you’re referring to and you are welcome to contact me directly about it. But as long as we are being direct, just because someone doesn’t agree with your opinion, does not mean it is being dismissed. I didn’t agree with the original thread that launched this whole discussion (I still don’t), but I didn’t dismiss it. We quite frankly will not always agree on everything…sometimes we are right, sometimes you are right….and sometimes we are both right, but on opposite ends unable to adjust due to outside factors that own the trump card (just using privacy laws as an example). Quite often, what happens is two parties simply don’t really understand each others point of view and the discussion helps clarify. In the case of this thread, I think some good clarifications occured. I think some good bits of wisdom to consider and I think some clear areas where we agree we have room for continous improvement.

    sean

  50. John (post 53) –

    “Perhaps you’re right that there may currently be a few that appear undeserving of the award, but they were voted on by their peers as being worthy recipients.”

    You should review a few of the posts, because one issue discussed in this thread is that some awards were made without any apparent peer review.

  51. My 2c –

    I donot want to see an eMVP program (unless it means ex-MVP). For all the reasons Sean described, it is simply impossible to do the right thing and win a popularity contest. The elites will stand out anyway – they don’t need to be or even should be spelt out by Microsoft.

    Also, I do feel, due to community interaction – a candle lights a candle – MVPs in general do tend to be technically better than non-contributors. So I don’t view community contribution and technical excellence as two different things. They are two sides of the same coin.

    Now if you see a not technically good MVP, that becomes a problem, because his community contribution is then undermined. Generally a low contributer who lacks the zest and urge, lacks the zest and urge to be technically good as well.

    I am happy to say that 99.9% of my MVP bretheren and sisteren are technically good/good community contributors, so I think the MVP program is doing it’s job well. Go Sean (& team) !!

    My issue of course is with people who turn MVPs into automatic dartboards. “OMG he’s an MVP and he didn’t know the answer to XXX”. Guys, we’re just like you – we don’t know everything and the little bit that we do, we try and share. Thats about it.

    Sahil

  52. As the person who said, ‘MVP status is not transparent enough’ up thread, I feel I must post back to say, in the light of Sean’s comments I feel much better about the future of the MVP status. And I’m impressed this actually did become a discussion: such threads usually die due to the collective dignified silence emanating from the interested parties.

    For the record, I particularly like the idea of an MPV Fellow (‘elite’ is too contentious) plus a yearly citation (Excel MVP 2005 etc). A ‘fellowship’ would remove the speculation that someone has remained a current MVP because of their contribution to Excel over past years, rather than just the previous year. The yearly citation may encourage a person to try to attain the award for just one year (I reckon ‘Excel MPV CCYY’ would look good on a cv/résumé for up to a decade), however based on Sean’s criteria this is fair game. On a personal note, just to know I’d been considered for nomination for MVP status would mean a lot.

    Jamie.

    –

  53. One thing that hasn’t been discussed much in this thread is the extent to which good works done in previous years should (or shouldn’t) be considered in subsequent years’ awarding.

    For example, we all recommend that people do a Google search of the newsgroup archives before posting questions to the groups, so should the fact that, say, 50% of all would-be questions every year are answered by one of Tom’s or Chip’s old posts automatically mean Tom and Chip are reawarded?

    Similarly for web sites. As has been mentioned a few times, most of the ground-breaking work was done years ago and has been made available for public consumption on various MVPs’ web sites. Yet few of those sites regularly get much (if any) new content. With each new release of Excel, there’ll be a few new articles or example downloads, then it’ll all go quiet again. Taking my web site as an example, I haven’t added anything new for quite some time (I will when we can start talking about Excel 12!), but my download rate has remained at a constant 350-400 files/day for many years. So even though my initial contribution to the community’s knowedge base was done ten years ago, it’s just as relevent and in demand today.

    But should such things be rewarded each year? Perhaps there should be “lifetime achievement” awards that aren’t renewed annually?

  54. But should such things be rewarded each year? Perhaps there should be “lifetime achievement” awards that aren’t renewed annually?

    Since Sir Isaac Newton has been mentioned at least twice, then how about the equivalent of the Lucasian Chair? What would their responsibilties be? I don’t know, but Hawking writes books about the stuff of genius that even I can learn from. Many here in this thread have and do as well; to the benefit of all who truly desire to learn and build a better product.

    How many of the MVP’s are (MS)household names? Bullen, Getz, Gilbert, Walkenbach, Bovey, etc. Certainly worthy of a ‘hall of fame’ status.

  55. BTW: the “even I” comment was from a position of inferiority and not the inverse. Having just re-read my post it looks a bit suspicious :) Not intended…

  56. I read the blog and all of the responses with
    interest. And frankly, I don’t know what to think. As a 2006 Access MVP, should I be insulted? Or should I be relieved because it was targeted at Excel MVPs? “Surely,” I think, “this could not be aimed at me.”

    But you know what it sounds like to me? It sounds like a bunch old-money country club members who shake their heads over the quality of the new members. “Well,” they sniff, “they certainly have lowered the standards!” as the uncouth barbarians invade “their” club. The single argument seems to be:
    “In the good old days things were different.” Naturally, the “good old days” were when *they* were inducted.

    Have the standards slipped? I don’t know. Perhaps they have. Perhaps the new batch has no right to be numbered among you. Or perhaps the world has grown beyond the bounds of what the MVP used to represent.

    In any event, it’s not a very gracious welcome for your new Excel MVPs.

  57. As a newly-minted Excel MVP, Dick’s post stung a bit. That usually means there’s a fair bit of truth in it, though, so I’ll concentrate on that part.

    I’m not up to the technical standard of Stephen Bullen or Dick, but I’m very good at taking Excel users from beginner to high intermediate or low expert, defined as all skills up to VBA programming.

    To date, I’ve done most of my work for profit, writing books (covered in the official MVP qualification description) responding to questions sent by e-mail instead of in newsgroups or online fora. I’ve seen a definite increase in e-mail now that my profile is on the MVP site. I’m tracking them so I can submit a verifiable list of accomplishments at renewal time.

    I take my MVP status seriously and look forward to creating free solutions I can distribute on my web site, presenting webcasts to help users get used to Excel 12, and helping folks use previous Excel versions more effectively.

    Because that’s what MVPs do.

    Curt Frye
    New Excel MVP and *$%! proud of it

  58. As a medium length Directory Services Server / Security MVP (member since 2001) I have to say that the program has grown considerably in that time and there are times I have felt it has grown for the sake of growing. I think there were about 12 DS MVPs when I got pulled into the program, all of who I knew by their outstanding posts. Now I have lost count and would say I know fewer DS MVPs than I don’t know.

    As I sit back and think about it though, I slowly realize that this *is* a global organization and it is possible the folks are helping in some way or some forum that I am not aware of. Obviously the MVP leads can’t possibly be positive of every awardee, they just don’t have the time to watch over every individual contribution by every person in their areas. I think there are people who are MVPs that the masses would think, oh yes, that person should be an MVP because of various popular engagements that I think are blowhards and no longer serving the community as well as they were and I think there are people who aren’t MVPs that absolutely should be because of the quality of the responses they give day in and day out.

    What that does, I feel, is put a sort of responsibility out there that MVPs have the option to pick up and follow through on and that is to nominate folks that they feel would make a good MVP **AND** point out folks who are in the program who don’t fit. This latter category I call the “how in the hell did that happen” category.

    The how is that there could be someone generating considerable community content in one way or another and having some percentage of good stuff and some larger portion that isn’t so good. Again the leads aren’t going to see as many of the posts as the other MVPs in the category are going to see so need help from the MVPs so Speak Up.

    If you hit someone that doesn’t fit in, tell your lead exactly what you think and why and try to give as many verifiable examples as possible. The leads will take it seriously and know to watch out for that person maybe a little closer to verify that the quality is really there and not just a surface kind of thing.

    I like the program. It is a good program, certainly there are people that may not deserve to be in it but I don’t think that compromises the majority. In the end it is like any grouping of folks, there will be some that really stand out as very good and some that stand out as not so good and some that hold up the middle. MVPs tell your leads when you hit the not so good to help weed them out and help the mid-pointers grow into “stand out as very good” examples.

    I don’t think there is a need for elite MVPs, not because I don’t think I would make the grade, but because the community will figure it out on their own. If a newbie wanders into a forum they aren’t going to know EMVP from MVP and won’t care, they are looking for answers period. If a bad MVP answer is supplied I expect at least one other MVP will swing by with a different answer. Folks who are in the forum regularly know who to really pay attention to and who is “growing”.

    This happens now even if someone isn’t running around with an MVP label from Microsoft. Many of us contribute to the communities because that is just who we are, it isn’t to win the award or to keep it. I almost turned the award down initally back in 2001 because I didn’t have a clue what the MVP program was and because I figured it was an attempt to lock down my comments as I was not very nice in my posts about a lot of the security stuff MS did at that time. I was assured it wasn’t a cheerleading outfit and I wouldn’t be censored. I am glad to say that is exactly how it has played out.

    Oh one last thing. I personally know one of the younger MVPs who at the time he became an MVP I think he was the youngest ever. He is a Windows Server MVP and in my opinion blows away a good portion of the other Windows Server MVPs that are 2,3,4 times his age. This was a kid who in high school was running networks that most adults would be proud to work on. I learned of him through the program and he was one of the people I was looking forward to meeting at the MVP Global Summit a few years ago. I met him and his dad (he was too young to come by himself at the time) and was even more impressed. Age has nothing to do with how good an MVP is.

    Joe Richards aka joe
    Microsoft MVP Windows Server Directory Service
    Author: Active Directory 3rd Edition (O’Reilly)
    http://www.joeware.net
    Alias:humorexpress@hotmail.com in public newsgroups
    Alias:listmail@joeware.net on listservs

  59. To avoid being punched in the nose at the next MVP summit, I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that I did not author this post. There are many authors on this blog, see the author profiles page, and I am but one.

    If, however, XL-Dennis is awarded before the next summit, I’ll be glad to hold is arms while the new guys take their shot. :)

  60. Curt, that’s a very gracious response and I for one appreciate it.

    I think the key to the disconnect is that MS is now recognizing as MVPs those who are primarily involved with MS products on a for-profit basis, without much of a history of volunteering their talents. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I would never presume to belittle your work or expertise on that basis. The problem is that MS has constantly told us that for-profit work should not be a factor in the granting of MVP status.

    I think a little more honesty from MS would go a long way here. It’s MS’s playing field and if they want to move the goalposts, it’s their prerogative. All I want is for them to be straight with us. We’re big boys and girls and we can handle it if the program criteria are being changed.

    BTW, Dick has not weighed in on this discussion at all. The OP was XL-Dennis. :)

  61. Roger –

    Have the standards slipped? Well, the “old” standards were never spelled out exactly, it was one of those “you’ll know it when you see it” things. But in the good old days, there was discussion about the process and about the candidates. This discussion has been for the most part removed from the process. I don’t know if the standards have slipped, as such, but the relative priorities of different criteria must have changed (so the standards have “moved”), and the process itself has moved behind closed doors, so there’s no hope of understanding what said criteria are.

    In my earlier comments, I was not singling out any particular MVP (I’m not even sure that they have been formally introduced). Rather, I was commenting on how the output of the process has of late been inconsistent with our expectations. Obviously Microsoft has determined that the new MVPs (and the renewed ones as well) have met whatever standards MS feels must be met.

  62. Argh … still haven’t learned the ins and outs of this interface. What I was trying to say, before it got truncated, was:

    Wow, Dick; you’re really moving in exalted circles. Or is it Mr. Kusleika now? ;) :D

  63. Curt –

    “I’m not up to the technical standard of ______”

    Ha, that’s a common thought among newly-minted MVPs. In fact, there’s been some joking in the past about needing new MVPs to handle all the Tools-Options questions, so the old MVPs can concentrate on the more interesting and challenging questions.

    I think we all get too much unsolicited email looking for help. I help some of them, but many I refer to the newsgroups. Then ironically enough, I may be the one to answer their post. It’s easier to justify the effort if it’s public. Sometimes I answer their private email, then turn it into a new web page, which also helps justify the effort.

    I was looking at your site a little while ago. Quite an impressive list of books (so I guess you could handle the Tools-Options chores for a while, eh?). One way you might volunteer content in your site is to post a sample chapter of each book. Other authors have done this. A chapter would be all that some people want to see, but it might encourage others to buy the whole book. Also, it claims that you’re a professional comedian: post a few jokes, but I’ll bet Bob Umlas knows more!

    My own web site is loaded with free content, a hobby that turned into an obsession when my previous day job became unbearable. My ulterior motive now is that this showcases my capabilities and interests, helps a lot of people, and brings in work. My sig line in the forums brings people to my web site, answering more questions, and bringing in even more work.

    Dick –

    “To avoid being punched in the nose at the next MVP summit…”

    You won’t be there??

  64. Wow!

    That took a while to read but I was glad I did.
    I grew up on Lotus 1-2-3, VpPlanner. Quattro and Excel.
    My heroes were Chip Pearson and John Walkenbach in the late nineties and 2000’s for their excellent books and resoruces.
    Like many others here I am considered an excel guru within my consulting business clients and I promote myself as one to them.
    However I have always said that compared to people like J-Walk I know 1% of the Excel he knows.
    I originally created my website and the mailing list I have for my clients to assist them, and as such a lot of the content is fairly non technical, and is based around how to do stuff that most proficient Excel users can do with their eyes shut.
    I never anticipated MVP or nomination for it (haven’t received it either!) and in fact didn’t even know what it was when I did start the website.
    Of recent times I have been extremely honoured to be linked on sites like this one, J-walk, Andy Popes and more.
    I have made some small contributions to the JMT forums but largely have no access to forums on a timely basis to contribute. As mentioned above the answer has usually already been supplied.

    I read with great interest Sean’s posts and see quite a gap between his explanation of the MVP program and what some posters in this discussion have determined it should be.
    |quote|
    As a Microsoft employee, I’m very happy there are Excel experts with a knowledge level of 10 in the industry. But if they are a 10 in the industry but only a 2 in contribution to community, then the MVP program is not for them. If you are a 5 in technical leadership, but a 10 in community…then I think the MVP program needs to pay attention.
    |end quote|

    If I may add my two cents I think that the MVP program should remain firmly where it is (as defined by Sean) and that a separate peer nominated program for Guru status (technical competence) be created. It should be separate to Microsoft and probably be a professional organisation. It whould not be based on fee for service but be nominated by users clients or by yourself and then judged on a number of tecnhical merits.
    As in any undertaking like this there would be numerous pitfalls to overcome in the first rounds of creation and ongoing tweaks to be made, but this could be recognised and dealt with by 5 yearly reviews of the system.
    The concept of fellows within this organisation should definitely be promoted.
    My pick for lifetime members is obiously biased by my reality but would definitely include John Walkenbach, Chip Pearson.
    Founding members would include Dick, Jon, Steve, Andy, Colo and more (not trying to leave anybody out).
    Professional membership fees would be charged to cover the admin costs of such a professional body.

    I think that the ideas here and the allusions by others to the concept of a professional body should be promoted on another website or at least in another thread.
    I have created a link to this thread and posted this comment on my website.
    http://www.spyjournal.biz/exceltips/2006/02/excel-mvp-and-professional-guru.html

  65. Hi all,

    Let me add some more thoughts to what has been said here.

    When I was awarded, I felt I’d never compare to the MVP’s already in there. All of a sudden I was amongst the handful of worldclass Excel experts. And I myself sure didn’t consider myself being that. And I knew I would never measure up with a couple of them, or even with most of them.

    But it sure boosted my activities in the Excel area. And I learnt very much in the process too. I can even say it gave me the last nudge I needed to start my own business as an Excel/Office consultant and developer.

    That being said, what is my standpoint in this discussion?

    I will not judge any new MVP. I am not in the position to do so, nor do I want to be in that position. I wholeheartedly congratulate anyone getting this fantastic reward!! (including me :-)))

    I am pleased MS asks our opinion when it comes to new MVP’s. But I would appreciate some sort of feedback as to why person A has been accredited or not. Currently, we receive no feedback (not in my perception, maybe I missed a couple?).

    I am glad this thread has turned into a fruitful discussion. I was afraid it wouldn’t and I am convinced the presence of Sean has helped tremendously to turn this into the good exchange of thoughts and opinions it has become now. Thanks for your openness Sean, much appreciated.

    Let me finish off by saying that I hope this (at first glance) very negatively coloured blog post (the root cause of this discussion) will help improve the MVP program.

  66. This has been a fascinating window into how many, especially non-MVPs, view the value of a MVP award. At the risk of generalizing, it would appear that among those posters that I recognize as technically closer to 10 there is a perception that the MVP designation no longer represents credible technical acumen.

    Many others seem to view this entire discussion as “you old timers are just whining about new members in the country club.” While nothing could be further from the truth, it is difficult if not impossible to refute such accusations without possibly inciting a flame war. So, as others have done, it would appear prudent to just roll with those punches.

  67. Having followed all of the comments in this thread, as a non MVP and a plain old user who has benefited enormously through participation in the Excel Newsgroups, I just wondered whether this whole question is missing the real point.

    I have gained enormous benefit from the NG’s. I do not care one jot whether the respondent is an MVP or not. One quickly learns where the real intellect lies, and there are many posts that I read, not because of the topic, but because I know that that particular respondent will have an interesting perspective on the problem, and one that I might learn from. I will not embarrass anyone by listing names, but I am sure that a poll of all regular readers would lead to list which is would not be dis-similar from “my favourites”.

    Do I expect the people who have been given the MVP accolade to know “everything” about Excel? No I don’t. Do I expect them to be “pushing the bounds of Excel”? No I don’t. I respect the knowledge they do have, and their willingness to share it with others. Yes there are many people out there who have as much, or maybe more, knowledge about Excel than some of the MVP’s. Does this matter? No. Does it detract from the status of the MVP? No.

    At the end of the day, Microsoft have developed software packages which are used by millions of people to assist them in diverse ways from fantasy football leagues to effective monitoring and control of large business operations. The everyday users have problems to be solved, and need a helping hand from time to time. The NG questions and responses resolve their queries in practically all cases. At the time, a solution which works is what is needed and appreciated. Whether it is the most efficient method is probably not at the top of the priority list for most posters. For those where it is, then they will go on (when time is less pressing compared with their immediate need) to read up more and seek more efficient or easier ways of resolving their application needs, and along the way will enhance their overall knowledge of the program it’s abilities, it’s limitations and (at times) it’s sheer frustrations.

    So why are there MVP’s? I do not think that they should be developing Excel. Microsoft pay large numbers of programmers to carry out that task. Microsoft needs to know what people want and I would see Microsoft requiring conduits to people’s requirements out in the big wide world. So, why not reward people who they believe have served the community at large very well, and who they can use as a conduit to gain views for future direction and development? Not everyone can be chosen to fulfil such a role, that’s the way of the world, so there will be many who may feel peeved at being overlooked.

    Now whether Microsoft use this valuable resource of the MVP programme effectively is another issue. There have been suggestions earlier in the thread, that Sean O’Driscoll and his team have not listened to the views of the MVP’s – but I think that was in terms of appointments to the MVP programme, rather than other matters.

    Well, that’s my “two penn’oth” (2 cents for the non UK readers) and it is against this background that I have made my own contributions into the NG’s. I have learnt a lot, I would like to give something back. On slacker days, I might post a lot, especially if a quick fix can be suggested, on other days not all. I usually do scan most of the posts though, and even when busy, I find it quite relaxing to go look at a few problems and wrestle with them, even if I don’t post a solution because somebody else has, or has posted something far better. I find it quite therapeutic at times so a very big thank you to all contributors, (MVP’s or not), you’re thoughts (and “company”) have certainly enriched my life.

  68. Hi. I have purchased and am hosting http://www.professionalexceldevelopers.com, http://www.proexdev.com, and http://www.proxldev.com. Those of you who’d like to be involved in the startup of a Professional Excel Developers Association, please join me at:

    http://www.officearticles.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=14

    You are not required to register to that forum, but it requires a password, which is LetMeIn

    I have attempted to start some discussions and hope that you will help. I am NOT a Professional Excel Developer (at least not by my own definition), but can certainly get us up and running, be the webmaster, host it free, etc. Making comments in that forum does not commit you to anything, but your input as would-be members is critical.

    Dennis: Thank you for this discussion.

    ~Anne Troy

  69. Hi Dennis, (and the rest of you gurus) :D

    My 2 (tiny) cents;
    As always you start a great discussion and I applaud you for that!

    The comments made in this thread are IMO a good impression of all the benefits and downfall’s of the MVP Program.

    I myself like the program very much because it now awards more people who are helpful by nature. The fact you want to spend time helping someone you don’t know makes you a winner in my book. (not to mention how beneficial it is too yourself…)

    I like the idea of a professional Excel Dev association too, and while where there I’d like to see one for Word as well! ;-) (Which is more my playing field)

    The presence of MS in the person of Sean is truly great and I’m glad to see MS is taking great interest in participating here.

    Thanks and keep it up Dennis!

    Groetjes,
    Joost Verdaasdonk

  70. Re:Converting numbers stored as text to intiger.
    Hi there,
    I am applying the formulae given above.They don’t work.Then I encounter the problem.The imported data are write protected.When Iconsult the tools menu.It needs a password.The data is from the stock exchange.Can anybody help?Thanks.

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