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I am Principal Program Manager at Microsoft leading the Business Platform Division's (BPD) community team. BPD includes SQL Server, SQL Azure, BizTalk, AppFabric, and other technologies and services.

MVPs: Evangelists in Sheep’s Clothing?

MVPs: Evangelists in Sheep’s Clothing?

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I was recently talking to a co-worker and I characterized MVPs as evangelists, among other things. I got a very strong reaction - negative. I know full well this posting is going to rub some MVPs the wrong way – like petting a cat against the grain! However, I like stirring things up a bit to see what people really think or you can simply say I’m a glutton for punishment.

For whatever reason the words evangelism and evangelist, in the tech community, have been casted in a negative light.  But I happen to really like them to describe certain people in the SQL Server community, namely MVPs.

Merriam-Webster defines evangelist as an enthusiastic advocate. The Encarta World English Dictionary defines Evangelism as great enthusiasm, fervor or zeal for a particular cause.

Isn’t this a huge part of what MVPs are? After all why would they spend their own money traveling to conferences both big (SQL PASS) and small (SQL Saturday)? Why would they go on SQL Server themed cruises? Why would they spend as much time as they do blogging and answering questions on #sqlhelp?

I’ve said here before I believe MVPs do a fantastic and selfless job in the community. They are an incredibly important part of the community. Their technical and operational knowledge of the product is top notch. Their passion shines through on a daily basis.

Take the characterization as evangelist as a complement. That’s the way it’s intended.

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  • I think where Microsoft folks get confused is the line between the product and the job.

    I'm an evangelist for the career of database administration.

    I'm not an evangelist for a specific product.

    I spend a lot of time trying to help people do a better job of database administration, but I don't spend any time (nor do I know any MVP who does) trying to communicate my enthusiasm, fervor, or zeal for Microsoft SQL Server.  Microsoft folks see us passionately helping others and think, "Wow, they must love evangelizing the product!"  That's just simple, completely wrong.

  • Thanks Dan, for the complements.

  • Interesting point Dan. It should be pointed out that "evangelizing Microsoft's products" is not, as far as I know, a criteria on which MVPs (of which I am one) are judged. In fact many of the most vitriolic criticism of SQL Server that I have seen or heard has been from MVPs - as I know you know only too well :).

    I guess helping people with their understanding of those products (which is what we ARE judged upon) could be interpreted as a form of evangelism.

    I'll certainly take the compliment as intended anyway :)

  • Hey Now Dan;

    Interesting point, both MVP's and evangelists are good for the community.

    Thx 4 the info;

    Catto

  • Does it take an MVP to be categorized an "Evangelist"? Just checking.

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