What the website really doesn't get into in great detail is what does it really take, what are the steps that you need to take to get the badge, get the recognition, and join the over 500 Top Contributors and Rising Stars across the world.
Many of us started as result of having a question ourselves that needed to be answered. We went the appropriate product forum, posted our question. Then we decided to look around a bit at some of the other questions asked. You will probably find that you can answer a few. Go ahead, answer them. You will then begin to notice that you have a badge on your profile picture. As you post more your badge will increase. I am not sure how high the badges go, as most people stick to it, they get to a point where they are invited to join the program, but more on that later.
If you find that you are enjoying helping people use the product(s) better, and feel like you can make a commitment and continue to participate in the forums you should head over to the Top Contributor website and click on the blue button at the top that says I'm Interested. That will take you to a form to complete. Once you fill out the form, keep up the good work, and eventually you will get noticed, either by another Top Contributor or the Community Manager. If you are lucky enough for this to happen you will be contacted by the Community Manager to discuss your interest and be given the opportunity to become a Rising Star and your number badges will be replaced by they Rising Star badge so people in the forum can recognize your expertise level in the product.
Now comes the hard work. You need to keep at it, increase your knowledge and help more people. Your posting #s need to be consistently high for a few months or more depending upon the forum. But more importantly, your posts need to be quality, Googly posts, not rude, condescending or obnoxious. These people are looking to you for help, so you need to just provide that help. Eventually, again you will get noticed and be contacted about becoming a Top Contributor.
Some tips about posting
- Don't be rude
- Don't make up stuff, if you don't know, say so, and you will check with the team
- Don't make the user feel dumb
- Don't word things in such a way that makes it look like they made a mistake; guide them, don't blame them
I should definitely mention that people can become Rising Stars and Top Contributors using a relatively new Twitter platform called Help on Social, which you can learn more about here.
It took me a bit over 3 months to become a TC and a year to become a Top Contributor in 4 products (Gmail, Inbox by Gmail, Project Fi and Calendar) as well as a Rising Star in 2 others (Play and Hangouts). I do it because it is a great deal of fun. I get to interact with people all over the world, virtually meeting tons of other Rising Stars and Top Contributors and I do it for the satisfaction of helping users get the most out of Google products. Yes there are perks, benefits and connections that are made, but that is 100% ancillary to the satisfaction I get from the users I help.