The annual vExpert recognition from VMware has been announced for 2016 with over 1300 people receiving the honor this year. I’m honored to be on that list again, I’ve been a recurring vExpert since the program’s inception in 2009 thanks to the efforts of John Troyer to help recognize members of the VMware community that continually give back by sharing their knowledge and experience with others. The original group was about 300 members and was mostly compromised of bloggers and VMUG leaders. The group has expanded over the years as both the number of bloggers has grown and the criteria and requirements have changed.
Personally I have always thought the group is too large and doesn’t distinguish that well based on the level of contributions. It seems like just about anyone that has a blog is included even if they only posted once or twice in a year. There are definitely people very deserving of the honor but I feel there are some people out there that start blogs just so they can get the vExpert title and they don’t put a lot of effort into it. Remember the vExpert title is not an official certification, it is simply a recognition award from VMware that validates your contributions to the VMware community. What you get from it is recognition and some other great perks like VMware licenses, beta program access, exclusive early access webinars, special events and more. Some vendors will also reward vExperts with special giveaways.
I’d like to see the bar set higher and it be a more exclusive club and/or have recognition levels like vExpert Gold/Silver/Bronze based on the level of contributions and the duration of maintaining the vExpert title. Those that have been named a vExpert every year since the beginning should also get special recognition as to keep it going year after year takes commitment and hard work. I think doing this would give the people that really deserve special recognition just that and put them in higher tier. I’ve always felt there are vExperts, and then there are vExperts, meaning I’ve always seen those that do more to earn it differently then those that do the minimum.
I also see this directly relate to blogging, there are many opportunistic bloggers out there. They see starting a blog as their path to getting something whether it be a new and better job or to get recognition for becoming a vExpert. Now there is nothing wrong with this, if someone wants to better themselves good for them. It’s not the reason I starting blogging and I know that’s true for many other bloggers. What happens too often though is they get what they want and then they dump what got them there. Just this week I removed at least 50 dead blogs from my vLaunchpad. Again there is nothing wrong with this, if that person is happy we’re they are at and doesn’t want to blog any more so be it.
The point I’m trying to make is those bloggers that stick with it year after year and publish great content should get special recognition and they do via my annual Top vBlog voting. It would be nice to see this carry over to the vExpert program, recognize those that deserve it the most instead of publishing a huge list of names with no segregation based on accomplishments. Maybe have a point system that weights accomplishments and then separating the vExperts into different tiers. Also seniority should play into it, someone who has been a vExpert for 8 years should have a higher weight then someone new to the vExpert program.
The vExpert program is a great thing to have and I appreciate VMware’s hard work and continued commitment to it. As the program continues to grow larger hopefully they can find some way to implement different levels of vExperts that I believe would make the program even more special as well as motivate people to accomplish even more instead of just doing the bare minimum. Additionally it would get those that deserve special recognition just that and give more meaning to the vExpert title.