More great comments are coming in about this position.
Why do I think we need an Evangelist? It’s because we need someone whose full time job is to focus on making sure the community understands what IE is about, what it offers, and responds to feedback. I’m not looking for someone who will don a blindfold and ear plugs and just shout “IE 7! IE 7!" all day long. I want someone who can look at everything the product team is building, figure out the value (and yes, the drawbacks where there are any) for developers, and then talk about that with the community. Call it ICommunityOutreach, or ISharerOfInformationForIEDevelopers if the word "evangelist" is what's getting you tied up here. You can put whatever you want on your business card :)
Should a great product speak for itself? Sure. But it doesn’t always work that way. XMLHTTP didn’t speak for itself in 2000 when we first invented it, but now with just a little help from Google it’s spun into this great excitement around AJAX experiences. Tivo is so stunning that it (or at least some other similar PVR) ought to be in every home in the universe by now, but I'm told their uptake rate is slow because too many still don't actually get what it is. They need an evangelist!
Sometimes it takes one person dedicated to community outreach to help the product teams keep their focus on what’s important:
To be fair, the IE team’s assignment is to build a great product that has the right mix of features for end-users, IT pros, web devs, and e-commerce sites, and ship it with high quality and security. The IEvangelist’s assignment, on the other hand, is all about taking it to the community. Do I hope the IE team steps up and blogs more about the topics that you all care about? Oh yes, and I sent a copy of Jim’s comments to their leadership team just now (and in fact their product unit manager already responded to me ;) But I can guarantee you that the IEvangelist on my team will be reviewed on how well he or she blogs and responds in a relevant way to community feedback.
Do I expect the IEvangelist to somehow force the IE team into implementing every idea that gets a lot of votes from the community? No. But I certainly expect this person to be able to explain, in every case, how the feedback was considered by the team and why a decision went a particular way.
Dwain totally gets what I’m thinking about for this position, and in fact he says it more articulately that I have, I think.
Let's keep the conversation going, I'm really enjoying it (although at some point, I'm going to have to get back to my other full time job, which is PDC planning, or my other full time job, which is hiring some Longhorn evangelists too)