Aaron Overton, the Windows Server community guy, has a blog. I particularly liked his analogy of the state of microsoft communities compared to linux communities - we have a ways to go.

I think that Microsoft-related communities will always be different and approach things in different ways from those of our competitors. We have things like the MVP program, which I think makes sense for us, but doesn't for the linux model. The MVPs are an incredibly important part of our community - I've seen linux advocates spurn the program and talk about how it's just Microsoft's way of avoiding listening to customers. Quite the opposite! The MVPs are a focused channel for us to help understand our customers more - each MVP touches hundreds if not thousands of customers, and can act as 'human aggregators' to help us better understand what problems our customers are having. It's not scalable for me to talk to each of those thousands of customers myself, but I can talk to my few dozen MVPs and get their feel on what's wrong and what's right.

I was in an executive review yesterday discussing communities, and he kept emphasizing an important point: Participate not just to answer, but to ask. At first, I didn't really get this - after all, isn't it better if I'm helping the customers by answering their questions? But later in the day, I had an opportunity to practice what he preached - in the middle of helping a customer on a mailing list with an Exchange question, I asked a question about how his users felt about something... I am looking forward to the response, and plan on taking advantage of other opportunities in the future to ask questions and get more feedback in this way.

On a related note, Church of the Customer and John Porcaro are two other blogs I regularly read related to customers and community.