SDL MVP: A Community vs an Ecosystem

This year, I was awarded the SDL Web MVP. For the fourth time.


And, I’m actually surprised by it; I lost a lot of my “writing mojo” towards the end of last year (it’s hard to know what to write about). But, I can tell you something I want to write about right now: What the MVP program is.

Ok, What is isn’t the SDL Web MVP Program?

SDL isn’t the only company that has an MVP program. It isn’t even the only CMS provider that has an MVP program.

Sitecore has an MVP award program. Some 282 people from 29 countries became Sitecore MVPs.  And those MVPs were determined by nominations (only another MVP can nominate you), and by factors such as Stack Exchange contributions, social media, etc.

According to a Sitecore YouTube video, only .53%  of the Sitecore ecosystem is an MVP(yes, I put the decimal in the right place). According to math (citation not needed), that means that there’s 53,208 Sitecore developers in the world. And so, of those 53,208 developers, 282 are committed to sharing, growing the ecosystem, and helping out.

Despite the incredibly large ecosystem,  the Sitecore Stack Exchange is sporting about 1,529 users—which is 270 fewer than Tridion’s.

It’s hard to tell you what SDL’s MVP program is, but I can assure you, it isn’t that.

SDL Web MVPs aren’t part of an ecosystem; they’re part of a community

I’ve never heard of the “Tridion Ecosystem”. Not from the SDL side or from the client side. We in the world of SDL’s products are a community. Not only that, we’re a very inclusive community. For us, that inclusivity means:

  • Anyone can nominate anyone
  • Previous MVPs are auto-nominated
  • Quality is favored over quantity

I know the folks on the SDL MVP selection committee. When a nomination comes in, they sift through and read everything that the nominee has done. They review contributions to code repositories, speaking engagements, activity on Stack Exchange and social media —not to merely tally up points, but to gauge contribution to, and participation in, the community.

So What is the SDL Community Like?

It’s a very large small world. I don’t think anyone in the SDL community is more than two steps removed from anyone else who works in Tridion:

  • My first Tridion project was in 2011, and I worked with Mihai Cadariu;  we’ve worked together again, both of us having different employers.
  • Delia Austin, the lovely  lady who got me into a career in Web Design/Content/Development, came back to work after 5 years off, it ended up being at a company that used Tridion, and I was able to find out who did that implementation in 5 minutes
  • In the past, you could find the creators of CWA, Razor Mediator 4 Tridion, Alchemy, DD4T, and DXA in the same convention center, and even the same bar
  • When you ask a question on Stack Exchange, there’s a better-than-average chance that someone who’s worked on Tridion since before it was bought by SDL might answer
  • My current boss has worked with two SDL MVPs, one of them more than once (not including me)


You can tell we’re a community just by looking up the definition:

a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists

The MVP Program Recognizes  Experts Leaders in the Community

“I’m not an Expert!”

It took me a while to get my head around why I was ever nominated to be an MVP to begin with. Just because I’m a front-end developer who’s dabbled in Tridion. I don’t do installations, configurations, MVC applications. I’m mostly a guy who sets up schemas, categories & keywords, and does templates (and they’re usually static templates, too).

I didn’t feel like MVP material. I didn’t even think it was possible for me to be nominated when I won for the first time. I thought it was for experts, and I know  lots of folks who think they can’t win for the same reason. That isn’t true.

SDL MVPs are Leaders

I learned that I was given the award not necessarily because of my expertise, but my intent to lead in community with my expertise. My writing, my activity on Stack Exchange, Social Media, and presentations were all demonstrations of my desire to lead the SDL community in a way to do front-end. Leadership in the community makes the MVP.

SDL recognizes your attempt to lead the community. That is why there are are fewer MVPs compared to other platforms.

282 Sitecore MVPs aren’t leaders in a community.

  • the community didn’t nominate them, other MVPs did!
  • How can 282 people come together and agree on how to grow and nurture a community?

The SDL MVP program is about leadership in the community, and it’s a small community, but we’re ok with that.

Because we are a small large community

Our MVP retreat won’t require name badges— just beers.

Congratulations to all the SDL MVP winners:

  • Chris Morgan
  • Dominic Cronin
  • Hem Kant
  • John Winter
  • Jonathan Williams
  • Mark Saunders
  • Mihai Cadariu
  • Pankaj Gaur
  • Quirijn Slings
  • Raimond Kempees
  • Raj Kumar
  • Robert Curlette
  • Saurabh Gangwar
  • Siawash Shibani
  • Will Price


1 Comment

  1. //

    Nicely written, Frank! Cheers :)

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