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Re: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?

by tlm (Prior)
on Apr 30, 2005 at 03:22 UTC ( #452791=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?

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

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Re^2: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by merlyn (Sage) on Apr 30, 2005 at 08:37 UTC
    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.

      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?

      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...:-)

        the nickname TimToady in fact hides Larry Wall himself.

        Looking at some of his replies suddenly got a new meaning :-)

      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. ;-)

        I would mind if Larry Wall blessed a test, because the economic dynamics are against any particular test or testing organization being able to do a meaningful job.

        In general there are two kinds of certifications.

        The first are ones which might look good on a resume, but are not that hard to get and don't have a good reason to exist from the perspective of public policy. Think MSCE. These pretty much universally suck. They tend to be run for maximum profit on the part of the certifying authority. Frequently said certifying authority is associated with a vendor, who uses the test as an advertising channel for the products that they would like people to adopt. Since passing them is fairly easy, the people who are most motivated to collect on them are people whose other qualifications are relatively weak. They act as a filter reducing the number of abysmally ignorant people, but are worse than useless for figuring out who is competent.

        There are good economic reasons that certifications tend to do that. Often they start out being fairly good with the best of intentions, but they don't last.

        This includes all certifications that I'm aware of in computers.

        The other category is certifications that serve an important public policy purpose. Well-known examples include board certification for doctors, engineering certifications, CFA, and so on. These certifications tend to be very difficult to get and are very meaningful. Typically they require that you both pass a series of exams and that you have specific amounts of work experience doing specific jobs under supervision. They are also recognizeable by the fact that there tend to be laws mandating that people possess these certifications to do certain jobs.

        I simply don't see the necessary dynamics for the latter kind of certification to come into existence in programming Perl. And, as I said, I am highly skeptical of the former kind of certification on general principles. Therefore if I saw Larry Wall bless a particular certification, I'd strongly suspect that he got paid to do that, and would be disappointed by the action.

Re^2: What is your opinion in Perl Certified Professional?
by jhourcle (Prior) on Apr 30, 2005 at 21:45 UTC

    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.

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