A few weeks ago, I made the grave mistake of accepting Skype’s offer to upgrade me to the latest version. I won’t go through the whole sorry saga, but the end result was that after a few posts in the Skype community forum, complaining about some of the obnoxious new “features,” I managed to find Old Apps, which offers downloads of previous versions of various bits of software. Interestingly enough, Skype was the #1 most downloaded old version, which means that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t like the new version!
Anyway, as a result of my posts in the Skype forum, I received an e-mail, informing me that I had been awarded a new rank in the community (stupidly enough, the subject line of the e-mail didn’t mention Skype at all, and it nearly got deleted as spam!). Almost too excited to click the links (OK, ever so slight exaggeration there), I went to my private messages on the Skype site, and was greeting with the overwhelming news that I had been awarded the rank of “Occasional Visitor” ““ a real honour that fills me with pride. OK, so that was also a slight exaggeration. My actual reaction was to laugh out loud at the blatant stupidity of awarding such a rank. Who on earth is going to be encouraged by such a title?
A few days later, after I had posted some fairly scathing remarks in the forum about Skype’s total lack of understanding of how to write a user interface, I was delighted (ahem) to receive a second message, telling me that I had now been awarded the rank of “Occasional Advisor.” Not quite as underwhelming as the previous one, but not far off!
The joke of it all is, that I was awarded these dubious honours due to my posts in the forum. I have absolutely no doubts that had any Skype employee actually read what I had written about their product, they would never have awarded me anything! On second thoughts, maybe they did read them, which is why I was given such pathetic titles!
By contrast, I received an e-mail from Microsoft yesterday, telling my contributions to Microsoft online technical communities have been recognized with the “Microsoft Community Contributor Award.” Apparently, this was due to the number of posts I have made in various Microsoft forums, and promised me “important benefits.” Now call me greedy, but that was enough bait to interest me, so I clicked the link to see what it was all about. I landed on the Microsoft Community Contributor web site, which invited me to register.
As Microsoft already know pretty much everything about me anyway (they are about as snoopy as Google, and track you everywhere online), I figured I didn’t have a lot to lose. It turned out to be a clever way of getting me all excited, by generating a certificate of achievement, that looked like someone had knocked up in Powerpoint in their dinner time, and some badges to use on my web site, just so I can show everyone how amazing I am! Well, I didn’t print and frame the certificate (sorry Microsoft, was it was just a little bit too cheesy), but I succumbed to the temptation to add one of the badges to my blog for a while.
Cynicism aside, the one genuine benefit that this award gave me was a year’s free subscription to an online library that (apparently) contains hundreds of Microsoft Press books. I haven’t got the details yet, as it takes their computers a few days to process this part (duh), but this alone was worth the award.
So there you go, my social status has been raised, or not. depends on how you look at it! Better go and do some work now! Need to keep up the image you know. We Community Contributors can’t just hang around all day, writing pointless blog posts. We have, erm, well something important to do. When I’ve worked out what it is, I’ll get on with it!