As the title suggests, this article is intended to explain why you would want to write a Technet Wiki article and enter it in the monthly competition.


Introduction

Each month there is a Technet Wiki Guru competition.  Entries are accepted in a number of categories. Each category is judged by a panel of Microsoft employees, MVP and Wiki council members who are experts in the field.  The top 3 articles win Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for 1st, 2nd and 3rd placing respectively.

It’s like a Microsoft Tech - article - Olympics, every month.

Just entering in the competition can benefit by raising your profile somewhat.  Winning a medal is an expert based endorsement saying "this guy knows his stuff".

In the longer term you may well find that those medals are actually not the most valuable benefit, but that's a while off. 

For now you can focus on those medals along with the fame and glory which goes with them.

Why the Competition Exists

Before launching into an explanation about what’s in it for you, let’s set the background by explaining why there’s a competition at all.

The aim of the competition is to encourage contribution to the TechNet Wiki.  We’re looking for more contributors writing high quality original content. The spirit of the Wiki is caring-sharing co-operative synergy and this is a friendly competition where you share your knowledge.

One of the potential benefits for contributors ( beyond those lovely medals ) is personal synergy through getting to know other developers and sharing advice. The social aspect of this may seem irrelevant at first glance but should not be underestimated.

Raising Your Profile

Even if you are 100% secure in your role you make yourself look good and by implication the company you work for also looks good.  Organisations like to see their people raising their company profile. At the very least, this might come in useful in that yearly salary negotiation.

Impressing your co-workers and management is a great way to gain promotion or greater responsibility.  If you document fixes and techniques as you work then you can direct co-workers to your articles. Maybe they'll find them without you directing them there.  Maybe when they're searching for a solution on the web they come across an article you wrote.  You don't have that awkward process of explaining you know about xyz if you can just show your manager you have 20 articles on that subject. If you can also point out these 3 here are award winning articles then this is all the more impressive.

The Wiki is a great resource, by encouraging your co-workers to use it you're also pointing them to a huge store of knowledge.  

Many developers will be planning to move on eventually or maybe fate has something in store and they will have no choice in the matter.

Developers tend to move jobs fairly frequently and of course for those of us who are contractors this is a way of life.  Businesses change and you never know when you might find yourself looking to move on.

Opportunity can sometimes come knocking on your door.

Someone sees your work and they happen to be looking for an expert in your field.   A fair few of the particularly interesting roles are filled without being advertised.  By far the easiest way to land a new role is for someone to find you and ask if you are interested. Maybe you're not interested in changing jobs because you don't think you're going to get a better one.  Maybe you don't even really have to look for a role.

The Technet Wiki is potentially a long term investment.  You can build a portfolio of work to showcase your talents.  Of course raising ones profile is potentially a two edged sword.  Get yourself noticed for the right reasons – with high quality articles.

Proof of Competence

If you are looking for a new job you can expect to be grilled repeatedly over this that and the other.  Those competency testing stages are usually the longest and most arduous aspect of any selection process.

Just getting to that competency testing can be tricky. Employers often get many applicants per position and they look to thin down that list to a manageable number. With no better way to differentiate between candidates, it is quite common for the selection process to focus on reasons NOT to pick someone.  Any spelling mistake in an application becomes a "lack of attention to detail".  You can sometimes avoid that aspect by standing out in a positive way. You want to show them as many positive reasons to put you through to that next stage as you can. Technet Wiki articles and awards are one way to do that.

What better endorsement for the developer using Microsoft software than an award from Microsoft? By implication, if you have a number of articles and a few of these win medals in the Guru competition then all your portfolio will probably be pretty good.

Tick the Community Box

A fairly recent trend is for companies to ask developers what they’re doing for the community. Some interviewers are asking this because they feel it demonstrates a particularly keen interest in development if you do it outside of work.

Some interviewers have a very different view and ask this as a sort of “trick” question. They want you to dedicate yourself to their work.  Someone whose main interest is working into the small hours on an open source project is focussed on the wrong thing for them.

Unless you already know someone who negotiated the interview and was recruited you cannot know which category they fall into.

The TechNet Wiki offers a safe option in negotiating this particular hurdle. The guy who wants you to spend your free time on computing is happy.  The guy who thinks you shouldn't be cutting code 16 hours a day is also happy. Both boxes are ticked.

Entry Point

“Getting involved” sets you on the route to numerous benefits of one sort or another. There are various Microsoft schemes which you may like to get involved in. Within the Technet Wiki these vary from the various Ninja belts, Ninja bloggers through to Councillor.  

Wiki contributions are also potentially a step on the route towards MVP. An MVP application involves you ( or preferably someone else ) listing your activities for MS to review. Those gold medals come in handy there.

Just competing at all will probably get you noticed by influential people and along the way maybe you will find the more interesting aspect to all this is the people you help and correspond with.

What Are You Waiting For?

There’s a saying that everyone has one good book in them.  That may or may not be true.  Almost any developer will have at least one good Technet Article they can write.

The Technet Wiki covers such a huge range of technologies, there will be SOMETHING you have worked on which most other developers won’t know or knowledge the newbie will find valuable.  Perhaps your viewpoint on something offers an advantage.

Maybe you're pretty new to development and you feel this is more of a senior developer activity?

That's not necessarily true.

The developer just learning a technology actually has the edge in a beginner orientated article.  The beginner has just researched and learnt the subject with all the most recent advice available.  The subject is fresh in their mind and they can appreciate which aspects were most important in their own learning.  The old hand probably learnt that subject 10 years ago and things might have moved on or they have long forgotten which particular piece of the puzzle was most important in their own understanding. Maybe their brain is full of whatever fills the brain of advanced developers and the subject seems trivial.

See Also

This series of links is particularly useful in learning what articles are expected to look like.