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What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?

by gube (Parson)
on Apr 30, 2005 at 02:38 UTC ( #452787=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Dear Monks,

For Microsoft they conducting exams for microsoft languages and they providing Microsoft Certified Professional. Like, Why don't we conduct exams for perl. We can also conduct the exam and can provide the perl certified professional certificate. The minimum qualification may be monk in perlmonks is enough, or likethat we can say any minimal qualifaction. So, please gods anyone suggest my request and do the needful if it possible.

Regards,
Gube

Comment on What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by tlm (Prior) on Apr 30, 2005 at 03:22 UTC

    Are you suggesting that PM get in the business of professional certification? If so, I don't like the idea. I think that it would commercialize PM; it would significantly distort the character PM now has of a community of people who are simply interested in Perl.

    There already exist many commercial outfits (for example, Brainbench) that offer the kind of service you suggest.

    A related question that I find interesting is the one about the connection between such standardized certification schemes and the commodification of programmers. Once programmers can be reduced to standardized certification scores, it is much easier to treat them as interchangeable parts. This is an inevitable development, IMO, just the familiar outcome of familiar economic forces, but it is not one I am particularly eager to help along; therefore I'd be sad to see PM become vested in this process.

    the lowliest monk

      And last I checked, Brainbench scored rather universally poorly by Perl experts for their quizzes, and appears to resist outside review of their testing by such experts. Hence, it's not a valid certificate to the Perl community, or at least shouldn't be for clueful people.

      If someone from Brainbench reads this and would like to challenge this, I would be happy to review your test for free. Otherwise, I shall continue to denounce your test as an unreliable indicator of Perl knowledge, as I have done frequently publicly in the past.

      As for certification, it's already been said in this thread that the biggest benefactors are the test givers, with the biggest losers being the potential employees or contractors, and the employers fairing somewhere in between. It's important to keep in mind that the only certification that will matter to people with clues is one that is blessed by Larry Wall himself. And last I checked, he was still clueful enough to not bless any particular test. And I hope that continues to be his position.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
      Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

        It's important to keep in mind that the only certification that will matter to people with clues is one that is blessed by Larry Wall himself.
        At last, someone knowledgeable eventually confirms the lurking suspicion I have been having for a long time that the nickname TimToady in fact hides Larry Wall himself.

        I even went as far as conducting a little investigation. The only outcome was the revelation that the name TimToady comes from the pronunciation of the good old motto, TIMTOWTDI...

        I have been waiting for this particular event long enough to feel some forms of satisfaction... Now I go back and review all my conversations with him to give the obligatory respect...:-)

        You should poke diotalevi one of these days on the Chatterbox if you can, who recently didn't get a job as a Perl programmer because he "doesn't have enough Real World" experience. Decided by a person who doesn't even know what CPAN is.

        Maybe it's just me, but IMO diotalevi is a rare talent, who boldly goes in Perl where noone's been before him. I think you could easily compare him to Autrijus, for example.

        So.. what does Perlmonks mean, anyway?

        I wouldn't mind if he blessed a test. Because, if he's been "clueful enough to not bless any particular test" so far, he's likely to only bless tests that meet a high level of reliability.

        It's sort of like when I'm playing Euchre (or any other partner/trick based card game) - I may have a bad hand, but I want my partner to bid something. Not because I'll support them, but because that means they have a good hand. I have no idea what a good test would be, but if Larry said it was a good test, maybe that means it'll be a reliable test of someone's applicability for perl-related work.

        That said, given what is attributed to Larry in perlstyle, I can't imagine him saying that any test was definitive enough to be acceptable. ;-)

      Hehe. Brainbench.

      My work had an account with Brainbench, as we were required to take two tests. A rather large number of people at work failed the tests. Some of them even failed the same test three times or more.

      I was bored, and as I had about 6 weeks before our contract with Brainbench ran out, I just started taking random tests. Now, I will admit, that I failed one test in taking it the first time (Software Business Analysis, which I passed the second time), but either I test rather well, I'm a whole lot smarter than I think I am, or the tests are way too easy. (eg, I passed the certification for CheckPoint FireWall 1, a program which I have never used, and I've spent at most 6 hrs in my whole life looking over someone else's shoulder who was configuring it.

      Other fields, which I've done for years, had some absolutely horrible questions that were irrelevent, or had no good answers. For instance, here was the e-mail that I sent Brainbench after taking the Web Server Administrator test, and only getting a 4.21 on it: (yes, yes, there's a whole lot of typos, but it's accurate as what I sent, and Perl is mentioned twice)

      Oh -- and for the record, I'm Brainbench certified in 29 job roles ... all because I got bored last year. (and I have no idea why 'systems architect' isn't marked as 'job role' like the others)

      So, is there a point here? Well, I'll admit, that I'm for testing, as a form of accredidation, but I think it's a complex system that needs much more than just taking a test. I don't think it should be something that should be in the hands of a company whose main interest is people paying to take the test (like Brainbench, or Princeton Review). I'm interested mainly in licensing, or a union, or guild, or something similar where you can check to see if a person has any substantiated grievences filed against them. (In a way, it's a Better Business Bureau for people, but I'd prefer something more guild-like where they're interested in improving the overall quality of their members, not just tracking who has complaints)

      Update: The Brainbench Perl test involved a whole lot of 'what would this script output' questions, which basically meant copy and pasting it into your shell, or for those times when they decided to present it as an image, it was a test of your typing speed. I'd also wonder how they're qualified to give a test on HTML and 'Web Design for Accessibility' when they don't put alt tags on all images.

Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by Tanktalus (Canon) on Apr 30, 2005 at 03:54 UTC

    I'm sure that certifications are looked on very highly by some companies. Most notably, the companies that are producing the exams. Certifications have never been a positive influence in deciding on which resume to extend an interview invitation towards for our team. An accredited university degree is, but not a certification.

    (For the record, I never said "a computer science degree". I do not have such a degree, my manager has a BSc in Engineering and a PhD in Math, we have arts degrees, and others, and a few comp sci degrees, too, just for good measure.)

    Your best bet is to get a degree. If that is not possible (for any number of reasons upon which I shall not pass judgement), go for a diploma (in Canada, this is quite different from a degree). But be aware of the reputation of the diploma-granting institution - some diplomas are worth more than others. If you can't do either of these, you may have problems in the industry, and you may want to find another line of employment.

    If, however, you're already through this, and you just want to prove your perl machismo, certification is probably not useful. Write useful modules, put them on CPAN. Write books. I hear people get job offers over those types of things. ;-)

Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by zentara (Archbishop) on Apr 30, 2005 at 10:20 UTC
    For $20 we will print up a test and issue you a "Certified Perl Addict" diploma ( if you pass). I sell the "prepatory workbook" for $50, which is well worth the investment, since it gives you half the answers. For $1500, you can attend the "Workshop", which gives all the answers.

    Upon passing the test, you will be entered in our National Database of CPA's; and you will be able to put 'CPA' after your name(unless restricted by your state-laws). :-)


    I'm not really a human, but I play one on earth. flash japh
      For $20 we will print up a test and issue you a "Certified Perl Addict" diploma

      Hey, for $50, I will print you a t-shirt saying "I paid $50 for this Perl Addict t-shirt"

      And on the back: "If that doesn't certify me, I don't know what does"

      Now this CPA certainly sounds interesting, but could you name a rough figure for a "Perl Hacker Diploma"? Would look really cute on my resume, right below the "Highschool, 1990-1997, not finished" line ;-)

      Remember rule one...
Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by g0n (Priest) on Apr 30, 2005 at 10:52 UTC
    First of all, this thread is worth reading on this subject.

    Second, TIMTOWTDI - what defines a 'right' answer in perl? OK, so thats a matter of exam construction, but perl is so free form, that it would be very difficult to construct questions that did not penalise individual programming style in favour of the exam setters own style.

    Third, to reiterate a point made earlier - certification schemes are first and foremost about making money for the certifier, not examining the skills of the subject. Yes, they can be useful to demonstrate a certain minimum level of skill in a subject, but nothing that a potential employer can't check with a simple 'write me a perl script that does this' test. They are however very handy as a search filter for lazy recruiters. The skill level that certification schemes test tends to be arbitrary and often banal.

    Fourth - perl and PM are open source, cooperative and community driven - certification is competition driven, concerned with making your CV stand out from the next applicant.

    Sorry, but I'd have to oppose this idea.

    g0n, backpropagated monk
Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by skyknight (Hermit) on Apr 30, 2005 at 13:44 UTC
    People who have certificates tend to be talentless hacks who can solve every problem except a novel one.
      While OTOH very good hackers might not have the financial capability to afford such a certificate.

      That's the problem with certification. Not the only one, of course, but one of the main ones.

      IMO, work in the community is far better to show than a Perl Certification Diploma or something.

      Go for CPAN modules. It's cheaper.

        Go for CPAN modules. It's cheaper.

        Or, if you have the money, go for training with a well trusted/known company/hacker.

      People who have certificates tend to be talentless hacks who can solve every problem except a novel one.

      Or they are working, or want to work for, industries and organisations that take certification seriously - for good or bad reasons. It's just a big a mistake to discard somebody because they have certification as it is to discard somebody because they don't.

        Fair enough... I wish to amend my statement to "people who make a big deal out of certificates tend to be talentless hacks who can solve every problem except a novel one."
Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by cog (Parson) on Apr 30, 2005 at 15:02 UTC
    A company that relies on Perl certification to hire employees is probably a company I don't fancy working in.

    Heck, they probably write "PERL Certification" in the "desired skills" section of their adds!

Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by etcshadow (Priest) on Apr 30, 2005 at 18:55 UTC
    In addition to the Perl Certified Professional, one would also expect the Lisp Surefire Developer, and the Trained Haskel Certificate.
    ------------ :Wq Not an editor command: Wq
      :-). Not to mention the Microsoft Monster Developer Associate.
Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by adrianh (Chancellor) on May 01, 2005 at 16:36 UTC
    Why don't we conduct exams for perl.

    Because, IMHO, certification rarely benefits the developer. Instead it benefits the certification organisations, trainers and (to a lesser extent) employers.

    This topic has come up a lot in the past as a supersearch will show.

    I'd also encourage those for and against certification to make their voice heard on the Perl Certification Wiki, especially on VotingBooth, WarStories and EmployerStories.

Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by cybear (Monk) on May 02, 2005 at 15:46 UTC

    My GOD, you guys are cynical!

    Everything from "I wouldn't work for a company that wanted a PERL certification" to "Certifications only benefit the examiners" to "it would destroy PM to give a certification".

    Take a valium, or at least count to ten.

    Companies ask for certifications as proof that a potential employee has a minimum of skill in a particular subject. The alternatives are to test every candidate themselves ( not going to happen ) or just blindly trust a resume. Truth be known, certifications may not be an accurate measure of skill, neither is a Degree. There are plenty of people who have Degree's from Ivy League colleges who couldn't code there way out of a paper bag, and many people ( like myself ) who have only certifications, who are employed by major American businesses whose programming skills are entrusted with millions of dollars worth of transactions each month.

    My second point is very simple. Have certification, get job. No certification, no job. Who benefits from certification? I was working in an upscale fast food resturant. Studied for certification ( CNE ), got a job two weeks later making 5 times more money. Who benefits from certification?

    Third, Don't take money for the test or certification, just make it hard. PM would not have to go all the way to offering Nation wide testing at certified testing companies or anything like that, work on a test, have the Monks peer review the test, set it up to work online. OpenSource certification.

    It's not really that big a deal, but it could help younger programmers, and programmer-wantabe's, get jobs. Sounds like a public service to me... and if we ( PM ) do it, we can do it right.

    - cybear

      Truth be known, certifications may not be an accurate measure of skill, neither is a Degree.
      You were about to make a reasonable argument, then you went down this route.

      True, a Degree is no guarantee, but it at least shows a certain time spent on a subject.

      A certification shows only that someone can cram for a test, get a passing test score, and write a check.

      Even if you think Degrees show some hope, I can't see how you can put certifications in the same category.

      Also, any "test" that is worth taking takes a lot of time and skill to develop. There's no way someone could do this testing for free: the resources it takes to develop and administer the test (like monitoring for cheating) must be recouped somehow.

      You call me cynical. I call you idealistic. I call myself realistic. {grin}

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
      Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

        A certification shows only that someone can cram for a test, get a passing test score, and write a check.

        That depends. While this may be true of some programs, there are highly valued cert programs that require much more than a quick test. The incorporate work experience, college degree requirements, etc.

        (Although I should add I've never been in favor of programming certs - as an employer I like flexibility in my programmers).
Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by mstone (Deacon) on May 03, 2005 at 01:15 UTC

    With deepest respect to the sincerety of your question, my opinion is:

    BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    *snrk*
    eheh.. heh.. hnhnhnhnh..
    AAHAHAHA.. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    hncch.. gack.. *inhale*
    wheeeeheeheeheeheee...

    and my reason is as follows:

    MCP is a racket. It generates all sorts of revenue for Microsoft, but doesn't mean anything beyond "basic familiarity with MS technology."

    Seriously.. how many lines of parsing code do you expect out of a MCP per month? How long does it take an MCP to generate seven function points worth of transaction management software? Does an MCP know how to implement a B-tree or a graph-clustering algorithm? It's an identifier with no attached metric, and exists because managers find certificates reassuring. They don't know what MCP means either, but they figure it has to mean something.

    But it doesn't. It can't. The problem space of "computer programming" is way too big, and way too messy, to be carved up in chunks and measured.

    Studies have shown that even among programmers with the same training and the same number of years experience working on the same subject.. literally, guys sitting side by side in the same project out in the cube farms .. there's still a 100:1 variation in productivity. What one programmer can write in ten seconds, because he's already encountered this problem in the past, will send another digging through manpages and references for four hours.

    Worse yet, there's no standard for measuring real productivity. The person who can crank out 10 KLOC every week without fail may not be a better resource than the one who generates 1 KLOC a month. Sometimes the most productive thing you can do with 10,000 lines of code is reduce it to 3500 lines of code.

    The real killer for a PCP, though (that three-letter acronym is what set me off above.. pump enough caffeine in me, and you'd think I was on PCP), is that there's no Big Corporation to make the letters sound important. An MCP means "this person paid Microsoft about $5000," but hey, Microsoft's big and impressive. Anything they charge $5k for must be worthwhile. Perl doesn't have that kind of corporate backing. We'd just be people with self-assigned funny letters after our names.

    Instead of worrying about certifications, spend your time building a good code portfolio. Write bunches and bunches of code, organize it well, comment it professionally, hand it off to all sorts of other programmers to find out how easily they can read and understand it. Then make sure you have it stored where you can do live demos when you talk to a prospective employer.

    Be aware that the coding standards for portfolio code are trickier than regular production code. Not only do you want to show off the things you can do, you want to show off the pieces that make it possible. Isolate your data storage so you can point to a given script and say, "right here, I'm using a heap to handle the priority queue. In this program over here, I made room for variable behavior by chaining function calls. Over here are some callbacks."

    Use each technique in multiple programs, to show that you have a toolset that will let you write all sorts of different software. That will give prospective employers (and even your current one) a better idea of what you can do, and impress them with a sense that you can deliver. And that's what they really want.

Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by DrHyde (Prior) on May 03, 2005 at 09:22 UTC
    Ooh, a thread on certification!

    Lots of people are addressing the pros and cons of certification, but none have addressed your question "why don't we conduct exams for perl?".

    The reason is that YOU have not created the certification yet, nor have you written the exams, used them on guinea pigs to evaluate your exams' worth, or marketed your shiny new certification programme.

    Good luck with your new project.

      The reason is that YOU have not created the certification yet, nor have you written the exams, used them on guinea pigs to evaluate your exams' worth, or marketed your shiny new certification programme.
      And then figured out how to recover the cost of doing all that, either by testing for free but charging for "services" (cheat books? {grin}), or by charging for testing itself.

      And there we are, back to the main game. It's a money thing. Somehow, someone has to pay for the cost. If it's open source, everyone knows the answers, so that won't work. So it has to be done in private, with someone bearing the cost of all those steps DrHyde listed.

      -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
      Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

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