Certification: Necessary Evil?
I wrote this as a comment in response to Dries' post about the Acquia certification program - I thought I'd share it here too. I've commented there before.
I've also been conflicted about certifications. I still am. And this is because I fully appreciate the pros and cons. The more I've followed the issue, the more conflicted I've become about it.
My current stand, is this. Certifications are a necessary evil. Let me say a little on why that is.
I know many in the Drupal community are not in favour of certification, mostly because it can't possibly adequately validate their experience.
It also feels like an insult to be expected to submit to external assessment after years of service contributing to the code-base, and to the broader landscape of documentation, training, and professional service delivery.
Those in the know, know how to evaluate a fellow Drupalist. We know what to look for, and more importantly where to look. We know how to decode the secret signs. We can mutter the right incantations. We can ask people smart questions that uncover their deeper knowledge, and reveal their relevant experience.
That's our massive head start. Or privilege.
Drupal is now a mature platform for web and digital communications. The new challenge that comes with that maturity, is that non-Drupalists are using Drupal. And non specialists are tasked with ensuring sites are built by competent people. These people don't have time to learn what we know. The best way we can help them, is to support some form of certification.
But there's a flip side. We've all laughed at the learning curve cartoon about Drupal. Because it's true. It is hard. And many people don't know where to start. Whilst a certification isn't going to solve this completely, it will help to solve it, because it begins to codify the knowledge many of us take for granted.
Once that knowledge is codified, it can be studied. Formally in classes, or informally through self-directed exploration and discovery.
It's a starting point.
I empathise with the nay-sayers. I really do. I feel it too. But on balance, I think we have to do this. But even more, I hope we can embrace it with more enthusiasm.
I really wish the Drupal Association had the resources to run and champion the certification system, but the truth is, as Dries outlines above, it's a very time-consuming and expensive proposition to do this work.
So, Acquia - you have my deep, albeit somewhat reluctant, gratitude!
Thanks Dries - great post.
(Drupal Association board member)