A. An MVP is a Microsoft Valued Professional. These are people recognised by Microsoft as providing a "lot" of help on their internet newsgroups for fellow users. You can't pass and exam or pay to become one. There are MVP's that cover most of the Microsoft product and development range - SQL Server is just one of many areas. MVP status is renewed yearly (or not as the case may be).

MVP's are not paid by MS, and are, by and large, not Microsoft groupies or yes men/women. They do get some "freebies" but if you worked these out as cash value to an hourly rate this is a few pennies/cents per hour.

MVP's can report bugs/problems direct to Microsoft for you, but it is only feasible to do so if the problem is reproducible.

The SQL Server MVP's (as of 2000.01.03) are (hopefully I haven't forgotten anyway) :-

Itzik Ben-Gan
Kalen Delaney
Trevor Dwyer
Russel Fields
Roy Harvey
Gianluca Hotz
Tibor Karaszi
Greg Mable
BP Margolin
Brian Moran
Bob Pfeiff
Neil Pike
Steve Robinson
Tony Rogerson
Wayne Snyder
Ron Talmage

To become an MVP you need to be "noticed" as being a regular, accurate.. blah blah.. contributor to the newsgroups/forums over an extended period of time. There is no fixed amount of postings, length of time etc. You can then be put forward to Microsoft (usually by one of the existing MVP's) as a nominee.

More info on the MVP program can be found at :-

http://support.microsoft.com/support/supportnet/supportpartners/mvps/brochuregeneral.asp