Feedback on the new Microsoft MVP RD and Student Ambassador site

As a former 7 Time MVP for Cloud and Datacenter Management and one of the few that helped in restart the UK PowerShell Community back in 2015 which has lead to many in person and online events, here are a few bits of feedback on the site compared to the last version, feedback that I would have given via the MVP Program previously.

Design Feedback

Firstly the design looks great, as it looks nice and fresh, which is always a good win with new releases of portals like this.

I do have a list of (mostly) minor points of feedback, which whether they are taken on board or not, is really neither here or there. By documenting these, it gives you the reader the ability to see not only an insight into how my mind works when I am reviewing things like this, but also is good for historical reasons too.

It’s also has been for me a very interesting thought exercise to engage in, especially having been a part of the MVP program, I do know that these programs (& others across Microsoft) exist because they genuinely do enjoy getting constructive feedback, as it enables healthy debate within those communities. This post I hope will do just that.

I’d perhaps have not reused now this is bigger than just the MVP Program. Perhaps would have made more sense, as that would have been Microsoft Community Leaders & could also then extend to profiles for Conference & User Group Leaders as well as other Community Event Organisers too. This would also help for a possible replacement for the Community Connect Site which unfortunately looks like it may no longer be in active development or active use.

Also as mentioned by others, this portal has made some previous existing links that are widely circulated, no longer of use, including some just outright 404’ing, some redirects would be a great addition here too.

UX/UI Feedback

There is and always will be a need for both a public and private API for interaction with a portal like this. Unless you really want people building a web scraper for sites like this (Hint - we really really don’t if at all avoidable).

  • A public endpoint & number of specific actions that can be performed from that endpoint that doesn’t require any API Key to use.
    • This helps in reducing load by reducing overall page loads, when many will want or just need to access the raw data made available from this site, myself included.
  • A private/authorised access endpoint which users can use for editing their profiles, particularly for adding their public contributions or events.
    • This helps in reducing load by reducing server load (as well as lots of network load too) as many will prefer to these things via much easier methods including their own automated means, wherever possible and sending a small data packet is much more likely to succeed than via a web portal.
    • Whilst this can mean more infrastructure to manage, it is almost always for those of us from more Infra/Application Support/Development type backgrounds, where possible the preferred method of interaction.

Some areas of responsive design could potentially do with improvement.

  • Particularly font sizes used for displaying peoples names as not to cut some characters off onto new lines accidentally when pages are redrawn as people shrink their web browsers from time to time.
  • Profiles should get rid of the unnecessary overhead of the Read More click - less to load, draw and then redraw. It is then less to maintain & to me improves user experience, and readability of the site. I always discourage these from use where possible as they are so annoying with basically zero benefit to many users. That said there may be benefit in having this from accessibility perspective, which is something I would like to understand more about the why behind this additional click.
  • The search for Student Ambassadors, MVP’s and RD’s felt slow.
    • Perhaps this was (at time of testing) due to search index needing time and people using it to be properly built 🤷🏼‍♂️ (that or it could just been a me issue)
  • Where has the total number for search results disappeared to?
    • This is needed by the community for identifying trends, like numbers of people who are involved with each program and whether this is growing/shrinking month on month and year on year to understand not only how much does Microsoft still value each program as well as now much interest there is in those working with those programs too.
  • I’d move the results drop down from the bottom of the page to be a Search Query filter for better discoverability & usability.
    • I’d also add more options than just 18, 36 & 54, including the option for free input.
  • Personally I’d look at prebuilding some pages that can return some common search terms as this should be quicker & can be much easier snapshotted too.
    • However this would not be as necessary when there is an API that can be used.
  • I’d also look at where there are MVP’s who are also RD’s returning a unified profile as opposed to separate profiles which are almost the exact same.
    • Not being under either of those programs any more I can only think that by doing so would make it easier for future maintenance in the back end as well on profile page loading.
    • It should help keep profiles up to date too for those that are both MVP/RD.
    • It should make it easier for those searching to understand at a quick glance (& importantly 1 page section load) more about that individual.
  • Technical Expertise shouldn’t just be an RD only field & should be something available for all profiles and be user configurable.
    • Perhaps have a specific RD recognised technical expertise field added alongside as this is important to include for RD’s too.

That’s the main parts on UX. I personally would like to a see the team behind this site publish an open ADR (Architecture Design Record) for all to be able to review and use as inspiration for any similar site. I’d even go as far as to say it’d be nice for a sample of this site design to be made open source. A big wish for sure, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get, plus it’s not exactly a silly request as could go in the Reference Architectures as part of the Azure Architecture Center with sample deployment code, whether that be Bicep, ARM, Terraform, Az PowerShell, Az CLI etc.

Note to Self - In the Authoring of this post there were some interesting UI rendering quirks when trying to break up the above list.

What else?

I feel that there are at least 2 elephants in the room, less around the site itself but these are surfaced because of it and what it represents.

  1. Where are the profiles for former MVP, RD’s & Student Profiles (for those that wish to keep their profiles searchable for historical reasons)
  2. There is also a need for some modernisation, particularly around the code of conducts for each program as there is definitely still some room for improvement with them, not just in their wording but also for historic purposes too.

The most important points of feedback around code of conduct related feedback include,

  • Where is the last updated section for each of the code of conducts?
    • Why has this been omitted? I don’t believe this was omitted from any on the old sites.
  • Where are the historic versions of the code of conduct of each program?
  • Why do none of them show a publicly available future date for them to have been reviewed by?
    • Ideally each should show both a last updated and a last reviewed date.
      • These are important for continued trend analysis & for those in / interested in the programs to keep track of how regulary they change.
  • Why is the Student Ambassadors Code of Conduct a document and not an easily scanned section of the website like the MVP/RD’s Code of Conducts?
    • On the inverse why aren’t both the MVP & RD Code’s of Conduct a downloadable file as well (which can then also be checksum’d against!)
  • These should also be able to be queried by API & not need to be scraped by loading all the page, therefore reducing overall bandwidth required
    • Downloads of these via API should be possible too if they are in a document.
  • Make the process around dealing with reports of CoC violations less of a black box.
    • Give insights into how many potential CoC violations have been raised, investigated and then upheld.
      • What level & kind of actions have taken place as a result of these reports?
    • Publishing anonymised data will add more trust into these programs going forward.
    • Detail how the process from report to action and any potential appeal mechanism.

Note: there are good legal reasons why we should have easily verifiable dated terms like these. Hopefully this has been an oversight as part of the redesign and launch & can soon be added back in.

However, I have said this before and will keep on saying it again and again.

The Code of Conduct’s that Student Ambassadors, MVP’s and RD’s are expected to follow, do need some modernisation. They need to be written in a way that shows they to fully understand that all involved in each program are not only technology enthusiasts that want our tech communities to continue to get better for all involved, but also that many of those who may have been involved in the past, are currently involved or want to be involved in future are also of multiple differing societal views & as such come from a very diverse set of backgrounds & are accepting of differences in opinions around challenging societal topics.


It is unfair on each one of these programs to essentially attempt to tell adults being a part of each program what they can/cannot discuss or debate with others outside of the remit of each programs reach, whether that be privately behind closed doors or publicly. Especially if it is on any highly contentious societal issues, which I’m pretty certain I don’t need to list here, especially as some which will unfortunately lead to upsetting or offending some that read this.

Just removing or updating 3. No illegal or offensive activities. Do not publish, post, distribute or disseminate defamatory, infringing, obscene or other unlawful material or discussion. would change (for the good of each program) how these are viewed by individuals across differing ages and backgrounds, and would lead to much more diverse a background in these programs.

Personally I think that replacing it for something more along the lines of 3. Socially contentious issues, including illegal and offensive content or activities. We recommend that the posting of content, original or that which is re-shared from others, that could be seen as defamatory, infringing, obscene or be on any societal issues including those related to unlawful material or discussion, should be done with care & caution, especially when done in the public domain. Any content shared is solely the responsibility of the individual sharing it and may/may not be suitable for being raised as a code of conduct violation.

The change to something like that, would have allowed me to talk very openly on topics close to my heart outside of tech, topics that I could not do so, because of, in my opinion, an avoidable and unnecessary overreach by the MVP Program. Unless this changes, I would not ever be able to agree to these terms ever again, as I did so rather reluctantly in the past. I also had been for a few years been not only debating leaving tech entirely, but starting that with leaving the MVP Program, off my own back & all because of this 1 aspect of the Code of Conduct. Which well, on reflection after a few incredibly difficult personal years, I keep coming back to the conclusion that I still want to interact with the many incredible people I’ve come to meet across these communities, whether in person or online.

Most Code of Conducts, and those in use across most communities, should boil down mostly to something along the lines of Try not to be a dick but this needs extending to

Whilst interacting with this community we ask that you do your best to be the best person you can be, but recognise that people do make mistakes. We however do expect all to be supportive and encouraging of others, whilst being as respectful to others as you possibly can, particularly to those asking questions. We ask that you ask and answer questions with kindness.

The Organisers/Administration team are there to ensure the safety, and enjoyment of all in attendance. They will take any reports where this has not happened, as well as any reports where an individual’s conduct has made others uncomfortable, seriously, and will work with all individuals/organisations/sponsors and others that may need to be involved to do our best to ensure that any incidents raised don’t happen again in future. They also reserve the right to ask those involved to take a break from the community, whether that be a short, long or in extreme cases be permanent. This applies to those of the organising/administration teams too & if necessary, will report incidents to other more suitable parties where required.

Much of the feedback from this post may be ignored by the programs at Microsoft it is for, it may also criticised by many that read it too. But by publishing this openly, it opens up the opportunity for a topic of conversation.

I would love to hear feedback on this article, whether publicly or privately, especially from people at Microsoft from those working across not only the above programs, but other Microsoft Programs too, as well as from those across the wider tech communities too.

If you want to give it to me privately then you can do so via this form

An Update as I missed something in my review

It seems the MVP program still likes to say it’s a community with Over 4000 technical experts, when in fact it closer to 3000 if my calculations from the profile page, which gives me the option of showing 54 results and then multiply that by the 59 pages of results & you get at most 3186.

I mean I know that my mathematical skills aren’t at a degree level, only because I never went to university but there’s definitely a difference here, of at least 814 which may be an honest mistake in the program not having updated this text in years.

UNLESS there are actually at least 814 MVP’s that cant or don’t want their membership being made public then this figure quoted is at least a few years old.

Now if Microsoft have kept the budget for at least 4000 MVP’s and aren’t keeping that many, then realistically it’s up to the many Microsoft Employees & MVP’s to get nominating really as I am sure there’s plenty of people out there that are deserving and willing to accept the award and importantly agree to the current code of conduct terms.

Note: I nominated many people in my time as an MVP. Most eventually got awarded.

I hope that this bit of text isn’t just an accidental oversight that has been missed being updated in years but is something that is how the programme intends on getting its numbers back up & published again!