I had been an MVP (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional) since 3 years. Over the years, I have seen and interacted with a lot of MVPs and got a chance to get to know my MVP lead too. MVP India group has a lot of talent, the member MVPs are really nice and even the MVP lead during my time (Abhishek Kant) and the current MVP lead are really good and talented people. But what I did not like was the way the group conducted its activities. There is a lot of valuable knowledge and information being shared by various MVPs in the group, and a lot of exciting tech events and meet ups. Unfortunately all this information is poorly managed. If you ask me, I think MVP India group is one of the worst managed of all technical groups out on the Internet given the high qualifications of its members and the amazing talent within the group.
The answer is quite simple: poor management and lack of fore-sight. Even today the group uses email as discussion threads, and the information to manage different activities is spread across various MVP sites, which in turn are not at all user friendly to use and consume data like events information, user group meetups etc.
In short, there is absolutely no collaboration at all and 90% of the times the emails from the group are flooded with stupid congratulatory messages including but not limited to member birthdays wishes, member anniversary or marriage wishes, new born child wishes and much more. The saddest part is that due to lack of a simple social collaboration platform, members are forced to view messages not related to their domain expertise which in turns floods their inbox.
I brought up and discussed this issue with different MVP leads, and offered them suggestions like using an open source platform or even using our product Communifire for free, but all requests fell on deaf ears. The MVP management claimed that there is ablosutely no use for:
1. Having a simple collaboration platform for MVPs having separate groups for different technical areas.
2. Secured files section where MVP leads/moderators can upload important documents for members to use and comment upon. Permission controlled so that only members of specific group can see specific files instead of blasting that file as an email attachment to all members.
3. Dedicated groups so that all discussions within that group is limited to the technical area of that group. For example, as an ASP.NET MVP, I would like to see all ASP.NET related discussions in the "MVP ASP.NET Group" space. If I need to view XBox or Office articles or discussions, I can always go to that space and get all the useful info. The idea is to categorize knowledge and information instead of having all the unmanaged conversations via email.
4. Events management: I should be able to see all the important upcoming events and RSVP to them. I should also be able to see who all are attending that event. I should be able to view events videos and photos post event, and comment on them.
5. Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing: I should be able to see and find out other fellow MVPs, engage with them online via simple chat feature or inbox (like Facebook messages).
6. Notifications and activity ticker: I should be able to recieve all important notifications and view activities via some simple Facebook like ticker so that I can quickly glance through all the new stuff happening in my as well as other groups I joined. Since I can opt out/in of different groups, my subscriptions will automatically show me only the relevant data.
7. Search: The information which members share within the group via question/answers or discussions is very valuable. Over the years all this valuable information is lost and buried deep within the email threads. Only if all this content was available online and searchable using a powerful search engine like Lucene (open source) it would have been of immense benefit to new as well as existing members.
During my tenure as an MVP, and even after it, I tried my best to convince the MVP India Team to switch to a better platform instead of using emails as discussion tools, event management and knowledge sharing. I hope better sense prevails and the MVP India team adapts and moves out of using email discussion tools to a professional collaboration platform. A big shout-out to the MVP lead in case he is reading this blog post: Please give your members a better platform, I can offer you a lifetime free license of our product or you can even use many good open source platforms freely available. The MVPs deserve much more than the archaic email lists.