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Web-based certification services

by brother ab (Scribe)
on Nov 10, 2000 at 17:59 UTC ( #40938=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Do you know about It is on-line sertification service which offers Perl sertification exam (and many-many others).

What are you thinking about it? Are there another similar services? Could such a certificate be a good addition to resume or it is unsufficient for employers?

-- brother ab

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
RE: Web-based certification services
by mirod (Canon) on Nov 10, 2000 at 18:46 UTC

    I don't believe in certification.

    I don't think that programming is something you can measure through a test. At least not the kind of test on-line companies offer.

    Does anybody apart clueless HR departments still believe in MSCE's for example?

    Talking to someone about a language, why they like it (or not), asking to see a piece of code they have written, then asking them to write a couple of short scripts, with and without common modules, that should be enough to evaluate a candidate. And if they don't know the language but know a couple of related ones (in the case of Perl C, sed/awk/sh would be the best background) don't worry, learning a new language is not that difficult.

    But trusting an on-line certification to evaluate whether a candidate will be a good programmer? Yeah right!

RE: Web-based certification services
by mirod (Canon) on Nov 10, 2000 at 19:58 UTC

    I just took the free brainbench test. What a piece of CRAP!. I would never, ever, use it as a way to evaluate anybody's Perl proficiency.

    To summ up the test let's say it is just a list of questions on bits of Perl trivia. On the kind of pieces of code that nobody in their right mind would use. Better work on those special variables efore taking it I tell you! And know your globals, << and >>, pack, and be ready to read (and understand) some awfull bits of code.

    Too bad there is just nothing there that shows whether you can actually write a piece of code.

    And of course it is just to easy to cheat, just fire up perl -d -e0 and you get most of the answers.

    So I would recommend using it 2 ways:
    - if you want to hire someone to maintain code written by BooK
    - to watch the look of disgust on a canditate's face when you have them take the test in front of you (but they can probably sue you for extreme emotionnal distress).

    And yes I passed, although certainly not with flying colors (what do I care about using globals to alias whatever...)

      Thanks for saving me the time and trouble (and, apparently $19.95) of taking this test, which I'd have done out of curiosity. Your perspective seems to be about what mine is toward such things.


      Just call me the Anti-Gates ...
RE: Web-based certification services
by little (Curate) on Nov 10, 2000 at 19:03 UTC
    I do know brainbench, but I don't know any others.
    I don't know if anyone can be impressed with those certs or if they count more than "oh nice hobby you've got" even if some of these tests are dasmned hard. So surprisingly I started to learn PHP but earned a master while I just hardly passed the perl exam. Look for yourself :-)

    Have a nice day
    All decision is left to your taste
Re: Web-based certification services
by clemburg (Curate) on Nov 26, 2000 at 17:04 UTC

    Some (possibly biased - decide for yourself) opinions on this:

    • The Perl test by Brainbench does as well as one can do with a 40 question, web-based test. The test uses an adaptive scoring technique, so you will get harder questions if you answer the first ones correctly, and easier questions, if you don't. I doubt that you can build a web-based multiple choice test that can do much better.
    • Obviously, a multiple-choice test is not able to test a complex skillset like programming adequately. Neither is an interview, nor a resume. Put bluntly, there are no known methods to test complex skillsets like programming in an adequate, efficient and economical way. Proven track records, customer references, assessment centers, extensive structured interviews, examples of former work, and trial periods are probably the most effective means of evaluating the skill of a programmer.
    • A web-based, free service like Brainbench is a Good Thing for people without a formal education or similar documentable achievements to provide some indication on their abilities.
    • Tests like the one at Brainbench are good screening tools, IMHO. If somebody is not able to pass this test (privately, on his own, I mean, not as part of an interview procedure), this is a strong indication that this person has not a deep knowledge of Perl, or has no motivation to show his knowledge in this test. Thus, this test can save a lot of time in evaluating possible candidates, at a minimum cost.

    I think the main line of critique against web-based certification services like Brainbench is in essence a critique of formalized testing procedures (like multiple-choice tests) as such. This may have some merit, but in the end anybody arguing against formalized testing procedures will have to provide some alternatives when facing the decision on how to evaluate candidates for a given job. Usually these alternatives will be more subjective (face-to-face or even telephone interview, recommendations, etc.) and/or more expensive (assessment center, trial periods, etc.).

    Christian Lemburg
    Brainbench MVP for Perl

Re: Web-based certification services
by dmmiller2k (Chaplain) on Aug 22, 2001 at 19:58 UTC

    Back in the bad old days, the mid-to-late 80's, before there were such things as certifications, I discovered C, the Macintosh, and shortly thereafter, Windows. For more than ten years I pumped out applications, using C with the Windows SDK.

    Then came Visual Basic. One consulting contract I got required C/Windows SDK, but when I started working there I found out that the project was to be written in VB (their theory being that C programmers had typically good programming discipline, and would have no trouble becoming proficient in VB, but that VB programmers had typically terrible programming habits, and were therefore not desirable for the project).

    Some years later, Microsoft came out with the first versions of their certification programs. I thought it could be useful to become certified in the areas I had been working with for ten years. I took the VB test, the Access test and the WOSA I and II tests (they had no test for C/SDK programming at the time, or I'd have taken that one too), qualifying me as a "Microsoft Solution Developer", or MSD. I then applied for and became a Microsoft Certified Trainer in Visual Basic (for version 4 -- about five years ago).

    After several attempts at teaching the VB class, I decided that I was not cut out for training. But other than that, none of the certifications has amounted to much for me.

    In fact, since eschewing Windows in favor of UNIX-based (usually server-side) programming (C/C++, Perl, cgi, Java servlets, J2EE, etc.), I've found that it is almost to my detriment now to include references to my certifications on my resume when I am vying for a contract position.

    On the hiring side, I think perhaps their only value, if any, may be in weeding out those that are in technology for the money from those who possess the sheer joy of programming that brought me into the field; that is, I am usually inclined against hiring someone who has a certification over someone without one, assuming both have otherwise equivalent experience.

    I find that those who "love" it tend to become far better coders than those who got their certifications in order to boost their salaries.


    Just call me the Anti-Gates ...

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