The enthusiasts are coming…the enthusiasts are coming…

February 18, 2007 at 4:37 pm 7 comments

The most critical step in developing strong and engaged communities is remembering that it’s your core enthusiasts that enable that community to thrive. Without an active and engaged core, most communities slowly, but surely fall away. Now, this is an area I have a HUGE bias for admittedly as this is my full time job to think about. But I wanted to use this example as part of talking about community development.

If interested, you can read about my day job here: But the point of this post isn’t about the MVP Award program. It is about the phenomena we call the MVP Summit. Approximately once per year, Microsoft invites this active community core to Redmond. This year, the event will be held March 12th-15th and about 2000 (of 3500) MVPs have told us they are coming. Bill Gates will kick off the event, but ultimately, this is a relationship building event. It’s designed to develop lasting relationships between MVPs and their peers in the product teams and equally importantly, between MVPs and their fellow MVPs. Something special happens when those who almost solely know each other online are suddenly thrust face to face. It’s an amazing experience. I always look forward to this event and will share pictures here following the event to give you a flavor of the festivities. I know several MVPs are reading my blog now, so perhaps they’ll add their perspective as well.

While much of the attention of this blog will be about online communities and social networking, it’s important to consider as you think about your community the kind of relationship you want to have both with the masses of participants and the most active core.


Entry filed under: General Community Discussion, MVP.

Why the switch off Live Spaces… Online Discussions – Insights you could use!

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tina Erwee  |  February 19, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    About your remark on communities needing the enthusiastic core… We have seen it happen locally. There were two active, vibrant communities running, driven by two passionate people. Both were appointed to Microsoft – one month apart. Unfortunately the community charters dictated that they could no longer be in lead positions. Both communities took a huge knock and is only lately coming right – after almost two years.

    My question is: how do you pass on the passion and enthusiasm to another person if you are not going to be around tofuel it?


  • 2. Sean ODriscoll  |  February 20, 2007 at 3:36 pm

    First of all, great to have you here in the conversation…South Africa is in the house!!

    Next, I don’t think you will find my answer very gratifying…I don’t think you can pass on passion and enthusiasm for community (and sociologically speaking maybe not for anything), a person either is at the outset or isn’t. Now, it may grow over time, but some kernel is there at the start. This isn’t the most instructive answer, but in the end, it is the way I feel on this.

    I don’t know the situation in reference, but does this feel familiar?


  • 3. Tina Erwee  |  February 21, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Hi Sean

    It feels very familiar 🙂

    And… a really average quiet type of person can surprise everyone when he or she hits the right niche and the passion and enthusiasm suddenly turns a “boring” person into a charismatic personality!


  • 4. Sean ODriscoll  |  February 22, 2007 at 8:32 am

    You have this right on!! In fact, there is often a disconnect between an individuals online and offline persona. It would make for a very interesting research project to look at the differences between a persons online behavior/personality as compared to the same persons offline behavior/personality. I wouldn’t want to overly generalize, but I think you would often see they are different. “Relating” is at least a partly learned skill and those that are exceptionally good at it often gained all those skills in face to face settings that they struggle to translate to an online space. On the other hand, sometimes the most outspoken online community person when met offline is quiet and reserved. Another fun issue to explore would be to look at this generationally. If much of this “skill” is learned through experience, then the obvious conclusion might be that the emerging generation that is living the web 2.0 lifestyle will approach this differently than I did. I have to work at it and think about it, whereas with the myspace gen, they have never known it differently. hmmm…has me thinking on another post.


  • 5. Dustin Johnson  |  February 22, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    This might not be the exact type of research you were referring to, but here is an interesting NY Times article from a few days ago about online behavior:

  • 6. Sean ODriscoll  |  February 22, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    Indeed, this is part of the picture too. What’s often referred to as the “flame warrior” or “troll” who is emboldened by their relative anonymity. I like what Commoncraft’s Lee Lefever says about the potential of services like OpenID to positively impact some of this( as online “reputation” becomes more pervasive.
    Certainly my personal experiences map to what the NYTimes article refers to. This is the darker side of that same dichotomy between online and offline persona.


  • 7. Dean Collins  |  February 26, 2007 at 5:54 am

    For thos MVP’s who cant make it to Redmond you might want to check out in August.

    Although it’s ‘infested’ with open source geeks 🙂 there will be a large microsoft presence with a number of MS initiatives being talked about and sponsored including SBS and CardSpace.

    Besides you MS groupies might even learn something from the cross cultural exchange 🙂

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

    Dean Collins


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