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Certifications revisited (was: Javaranch's image discussion)

Guennadiy VANIN
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Joined: Aug 30, 2001
Posts: 898

Originally posted by Rob Ross
in
http://www.javaranch.com ubb=get topic &f=10&t=001017
If you are really serious about being professional, then I must sadly criticize the Java Ranch logo – the one-eyed moose.

The time, that we may afford for certain site or at Internet at large, depends on potential impression by nearby colleagues, relatives (some of them children), employers, clients, and even of librarians where you use access the Internet.
It would have been more advantageous to pass an image of working person, but not trailing after flies or peeping through rotten.com (if there would be much difference for casual observer)
One glance, long memory!
[ January 27, 2003: Message edited by: Mark Herschberg ]
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
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Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
There are plenty of sites to discuss Java that do not feature a one-eyed moose. Perhaps you would be happier at one of those.


Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
Barry Gaunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
Dare I....?
Get with the trend


Ask a Meaningful Question and HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch
Getting someone to think and try something out is much more useful than just telling them the answer.
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Whoa -
Could be a big hornets nest here, but I can't resist!
I have only been coming to JavaRanch for about three months now, but it seems to me that one of the reasons it's so successful is that it really IS a friendly place.
I always wonder how many JavaRanchers never make a post... but IMHO a lot more people post here because it is friendly, than post at other 'stuffier' sites. Having a relaxed and friendly atmosphere doesn't mean that important things aren't happening ! I think the quality of thought and level of expertise here are truly astounding !
My vote is, keep it friendly, keep it relaxed, and let's keep the best talent right here - JavaRanch Rocks !!
In terms of the value of certification, I have to say that I have been a hiring manager for many years. You can always determine how much experience an applicant has, and if I'm comparing two applicants with similar experience levels, a certification definitely makes a difference!


Spot false dilemmas now, ask me how!
(If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much room.)
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Bert Bates:
In terms of the value of certification, I have to say that I have been a hiring manager for many years. You can always determine how much experience an applicant has, and if I'm comparing two applicants with similar experience levels, a certification definitely makes a difference!
And you are completely unbiased in spite of your relationship with a certain cowgirl who will go nameless.
personally, I have never cared about a certification when I was hiring. The only thing that ever mattered was experience.
Cindy Glass
"The Hood"
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 29, 2000
Posts: 8521
Originally posted by G Vanin:
It would have been more advantageous to pass an image of working person, but not trailing after flies or peeping through rotten.com (if there would be much difference for casual observer)

The guy TOLD you not to look at rotten.com, and you LOOKED anyway :roll: .
As to the image of JavaRanch, we have also been told that we are TOO serious and need to lighten up more . . . you just can NOT please everyone.
So - we like to keep it playful. If you want an "image of a working person" try java.sun.com. It's boring enough for ANYONE .


"JavaRanch, where the deer and the Certified play" - David O'Meara
Guennadiy VANIN
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 30, 2001
Posts: 898
Originally posted by Bert Bates:

In terms of the value of certification, I have to say that I have been a hiring manager for many years. You can always determine how much experience an applicant has, and if I'm comparing two applicants with similar experience levels, a certification definitely makes a difference!

Give me your Email to send you my CV.
I am not worried because I am Russian and I am currently trying to loose my weight and feel more hungry than five Russians! It is an official opinion here that nobody can compete with five hungry Russians!
Axel Janssen
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 08, 2001
Posts: 2164
Originally posted by Guennadiy VANIN:

[...]CV
[...] loose my weight

and you think US is right place to keep your weight down?
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Thomas -
To clarify, imho experience IS much more important than certification... However, certification is a GREAT tie-breaker. It's like a little college degree, it demonstrates an applicant's desire, intelligence, work ethic, and ability to focus.
Frankly, when I see an applicant with a college degree I don't think to myself- 'oooh I'm sure we can really use whatever wonderful new technology this guy learned at school'. Instead, I think 'this guy (gal) is smart, a good communicator, (listening and speaking), and has demonstrated committment. So in a little micro sort of way certification is like that.
So, let me repeat - experience beats certification, but certification is a great tie-breaker !
-Bert
John Lee
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Joined: Aug 05, 2001
Posts: 2545
Thanks for the information!
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Bert Bates:
To clarify, imho experience IS much more important than certification... However, certification is a GREAT tie-breaker.
That seems a bit odd to me. I have never had two resumes where the two candidates were equal and I needed a tie breaker. If it ever did happen I would have both candidates come in for an interview and the interview would decide the issue. I would NEVER reject a candidate because they weren't certified which is what using the certification as a tie-breaker is.
[ January 27, 2003: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
Bert Bates
author
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 14, 2002
Posts: 8815
    
    5
Thomas -
Sorry for the misunderstanding... I never meant to imply that the process for hiring candidates could be reduced to any sort of algorithm, where a mechanical 'tie-breaker' could be the ultimate deciding factor.
My experience is that finding great analysts is a very subjective, whole-brained activity. I can't give you a percentage breakdown, or a precise hierachy of significant attributes. I have to say that there are many factors, they are dynamic, and that certification is often part of that mix.
Just as an example, I have often been looking specifically for college interns, in whatever 'fuzzy logic' I might apply to selecting a hire from a group of candidates, I'd have t o say that certification is a bigger factor than when I'm looking for say, architects with many years of experience .
Another point is that when you study to be certified you learn language fundamentals in a much more thorough way than you might if you're 'on the job' trying to make a deadline. Ian Darwin, in the 'Java Cookbook' has a wonderful line...
'Learning the API well is a good grounds for avoiding that deadly "reinventing the flat tire" syndrome - coming up with a second-rate equivalent of a first-rate product that was available to you the whole time.'
I believe that most people who have studied for and passed the SCJP exam probably spent a good deal of time with their noses in the 'Java Developer's Almanac' or 'Java in a Nutshell'. Those people will be far less apt to 'reinvent a flat tire'.
Kathy Sierra
Cowgirl and Author
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Joined: Oct 10, 2002
Posts: 1572
Guess I had to join in with my obivously *completely* objective thoughts...
We can debate the value of certification, but we'd have to define "value". There's *real* value and *perceived* value. And then there's real *knowledge and personal* value and real *career* value.
Also, one cannot compare certifications and make a general statement. An MCSE certification has a *perceived* value that is very different from an SCJP certification. SCJP is *perceived* as being much, much harder to achieve.
Given those distintions, certification is valuable in many ways:
* According to Sun stats, the demand for certification -- by employers -- is strong and still growing both in spite of and BECAUSE of the economic downturn.
* As long as an employer DOES perceive that certification has value, the certification has value.
* Many companies have customer requirements that all consultants or contract programmers be certified. It is no guarantee of any performance level, but at least it says SOMETHING that is concrete as opposed to, "take our word for it." Again, doesn't matter if it actually means anything real or not.
* The value to a programmer for knowledge (setting aside job employment value) is that nearly ALL certified programmers agree that they learned things they would not otherwise have learned, given that so much of a programmer's knowledge comes ad hoc when a project requires this new capability. And that without that broader, deeper understanding of the language itself, they may be making mistakes they never even knew they were making -- having THOUGHT they understood it but really didn't. We hear over and over again that programmers who study for the exam, even those who've been Java programmers for two years, say, "...OH... so *that's* how it works!"
And purely anecdotal...
Bert and I taught a certification workshop on the last Java Geekcruise, and ALL candidates there were sent BY their employers (and each from a different company and part of the country (and world). That means the employers paid for both the cruise AND the certification workshop. So in this case, their employers felt it important enough to spend the money and get them certified. The reasons they gave were all different, but nonetheless the value to the candidates was that their employers wanted them certified (and boy oh boy were they grateful that a certification workshop just happened to be offered on a cruise ship
* Other *values* of certification include intangibles like the candidate's satisfaction of having studied and passed such a difficult exam. Some don't care about this -- they're only doing it for a job, but most DO in the end, seem to care, even those who hadn't previously thought of that as a value in and of itself.
* Let's not forget the cool lapel pin.
I doubt anyone can argue against the fact that experience is more important than certification, and that SCJP doesn't prove you can program your way out of a paper bag (let alone work from the often fuzzy, ever-changing spec).
But there's more to the picture and again, even if you personally (and so many others) would not give certification one shred of though when choosing an employee, as long as there is a huge group who WOULD, certification has value. And as long as the certification remains difficult to study for and achieve, the certification has value all by itself, whether it leads to a job or not. Even if the programmer *never* works in Java again, passing this exam has value.
* Let's also not forget the sheer pleasure and delight that comes with reading a good certification book
Hmmmm and back to the moose thing, well, most of you already know my thoughts about the whole "unprofessional" thing! As Cindy said, we can't please everyone, but javaranch was NOT created as a site to please everyone. It was created to please only those who:
a) have a sense of humour
b) want a friendly, happy, FUN place
c) don't give a damn about serious professionalism
d) enjoy thinking about and playing with Java
e) want to pass the exam
f) tend to be on the deviant, subversive, or wacky side.
Sorry, but I created javaranch with the SOLE purpose of being a friendly, playful, *irreverant* place that was an oasis from "serious professionalism". (and was also dedicated to helping you get through the certification process). Anyone who doesn't feel comfortable with the atmosphere/image belongs somewhere else, especially since ANYONE has the power to start their own website with their own preferred image, and for pretty much no cost. That's the magic of the Web
I had created the idea of the Moose but had not yet made artwork for it when I gave the site to Paul, nervous of course, that the javaranch image might be suppressed into something more dry and business-like.
But when I saw the Moose I was thrilled -- it was PERFECT
And one more time for the record -- Paul (and others) offered to BUY javaranch. I refused because I would have preferred it disappear rather than "sell out". It was only after Paul convinced me (and you have no idea how hard he tried and how persistent he was) that he, too, was a believer.
I would HIGHLY encourage people to get out there and make their own sites. Marcus did. Paul did. I did. Ed Roman did. If you have enough computing power to visit javaranch, you have enough computing power to make your own. I think it would be better for the whole java community if there were more diversity in sites, rather than trying to water down one site to the point where it pleases everyone.
If you please everybody, you inspire nobody.
Long live the Moose!
Long live Certification [books]!
-cowgirl
p.s. if you think javaranch has an image issue, just wait until you see what O'Reilly is coming out with in May. Talk about an image deviation
Fortunately, Tim O'Reilly is brave enough to boldy go where no Java book has ever gone.


Co-Author of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596007124/ref=jranch-20" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">"Head First Design Patterns"</a><br /> <br />Just a Jini girl living in a J2EE world.
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 18671
Just to point out, a discussion of the merits of certification would probably be a better fit in the certification forums. Guennadii's signature is what started the topic here, but it wasn't really what he was posting about here.
As for the moose image - one option to consider is disabling image loading in your browser. Maybe that's not the ideal solution for you, but at least it's an option...
[ January 26, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

"I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
We also get this topic regularly in Job Discussion.
--Mark
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
I agree that certification has value and there are certainly companies that want their employees certified. (I find this to mostly be consultants so they can brag about it to their clients.) Personally, I never found it important in hiring.
Kathy brings up another question... is the test hard? We hear of 14 year olds passing the test and we also hear of programmers who never coded a line of Java passing the test. What exactly is the pass rate? We don't know because Sun doesn't release those figures. It would be interesting to see those figures.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
This thread is for discusion of the certification exam and its value. To discuss the Moose, go to the JavaRanch forum and look for the identical thread.
Ohhh... the pain of thread drift!
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I changed the topic of this thread to bring it inline with why it got moved to the Job Discussion forum (otherwise it looks out of place).
--Mark
Paul Stevens
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Joined: May 17, 2001
Posts: 2823
Ok. About the Moose. :roll:
Rufus BugleWeed
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Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
Originally posted by Thomas Paul
And you are completely unbiased in spite of your relationship with a certain cowgirl who will go nameless.
personally, I have never cared about a certification when I was hiring. The only thing that ever mattered was experience.

As a java instructor at the University can you be completely unbiased in your assesment of Java Certification? Another nice part of certification is there's no instructor to pay.
[ January 27, 2003: Message edited by: Rufus BugleWeed ]
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
Another nice part of certification is there's no instructor to pay.

Maybe, but certification doesn't give you 2-3 credits towards graduation. Thomas' class likely does. I don't think "java instructors" and "java certification" are even remotely mutually exclusive. Besides, as Kathy pointed out, many companies pay "java instructors" so that their employees can pass "java certification".
[ January 27, 2003: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
... graduation...

Certainly the spirited competition that occurs for the high gpa graduates from the elite schools shows what value experience commands in the work place.
And I don't believe that certification precludes the need instructors. If there were not a certification process would Mughal and Rasmussen have written their book? Do they not represent instructors that scale?
There is a persistent crowd that disparages the value of certification. Do they - you feel this way about education in general? The point I feel they are trying to make is that the school of hard knocks is the best method for a person to better their skill set. Get a grip...
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:

Certainly the spirited competition that occurs for the high gpa graduates from the elite schools shows what value experience commands in the work place.

You're comapring apples and oranges.
Give me a kid who just graduated in the top 5% of his ivy league class, and a guy with 15 years experience and a very successful track record (with a degree from a state school) and I'll take the experienced guy just about every time. (Obviously in these hypotheticals, there's a lot of implicit assumptions about ability and cost.)
Give me the same ivy league kid and his peer who just graduated from the state school, and I'll take the ivy kid.
--Mark
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Don't get me wrong Rufus, I'm not knocking certification. I just see a different value in it than many. It was alluded to by another poster previously, but the value in the certification is often for the employers. Companies that contract out their employees like to be able to put on the contract bid that their employees are certified, or to be able to staff contracts that call for certified personnel. It's all about them being competitive. Many of these companies give bonuses or raises when an employee gets certified. Sounds like good enough reason for me to get certified if I worked for such a company.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
I just see a different value in it than many. It was alluded to by another poster previously, but the value in the certification is often for the employers. Companies that contract out their employees like to be able to put on the contract bid that their employees are certified, or to be able to staff contracts that call for certified personnel.

So certification is valuable because someone else thinks it's valuable? Sounds like a house of cards to me.
--Mark
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
So certification is valuable because someone else thinks it's valuable? Sounds like a house of cards to me.

Why's that? Things are often measured by their perceived value. Like certification, a college degree is another one of those things. I'd been working in the industry as a developer for some time prior to completing my BS in CS. When I finally graduated I wasn't suddenly a much better developer. However, to others that piece of paper is valuable.
I can fill certain positions on contracts without the need for waivers because of that piece of paper. I can command a higher rate for my company because of that piece of paper. So this degree holds a value to others that is separate from the value that I assign to it. Yes my degree is valuable to me in many ways on a personal level, but the value that others place on this piece is probably at least as significant. It is the same thing with certification.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
As a java instructor at the University can you be completely unbiased in your assesment of Java Certification? Another nice part of certification is there's no instructor to pay.
Actually a good number of my students are taking the course to prepare for their certification.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
There is a persistent crowd that disparages the value of certification. Do they - you feel this way about education in general? The point I feel they are trying to make is that the school of hard knocks is the best method for a person to better their skill set. Get a grip...

There are two different things you are talking about... certification and education. One can be educated and not be certified. In fact, preparing for the certification is a lot more important than actually taking it.
The point I am making is that I can't think of a single situation where I would base a hiring decision on whether a person was certified or not. Obviously some people do value the certification for whatever reason.
[ January 28, 2003: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
Abadula Joshi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 126
Sometimes this "certification vs experience" debating may involve little bit personal feeling. Some people never get chance or never have courage to committ to studying for and getting those certificates, so they want to focus on experience only, and insist that certificates are useless -- this make them feel better.
If you are really good, getting these Sun's 4 certificates should not be that difficult. You can still hold your experience that nobody can deny.
abadula
Sondra Colagrossi
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Joined: Oct 30, 2002
Posts: 68
Originally by TP
There are two different things you are talking about... certification and education. One can be educated and not be certified.

Your saying you can be certified but not educated?
Abadula Joshi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 126
Actually in these days I see more and more experienced people get SUN's 4 certificates. These experienced people all technically benefit from doing that.
If a hiring manager finds that a guy with certificates can't perform well, he shouldn't draw a conclusion that certificate is useless. Some people with many years of experience may not perform well either, but that doesn't mean experience isn't important. In many cases it depends on the individual's other factors.
Abadula Joshi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 126
Originally posted by Bob Fred:

Your saying you can be certified but not educated?


Bob,
it seems when people talk about "educated", they mean you go to a school (university or college) to take courses and earn a degree. when people talk about "certified", they mean you go for professional certificates issued by different vendors. That's why sometimes you may be "educated" but not "certified", or vice versa.
If you are educated but not certified, you have a good chance to be certified; If you are only certified but not educated, it may be harder for you to make up that missing part (although you may still be able to handle your daily jobs). Being educated should be the first priority.
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
So my original contention is valid. Educators are competitors with the certification process.
Do you agree Abadula?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Jason Menard:

Why's that? Things are often measured by their perceived value. Like certification, a college degree is another one of those things. I'd been working in the industry as a developer for some time prior to completing my BS in CS. When I finally graduated I wasn't suddenly a much better developer. However, to others that piece of paper is valuable.

History has shown these a house of cards eventually collapses. The USD is a piece of a paper which a perceived value. Why? Because it is backed by the government which has real resources (be it gold, or F-16 fighter planes). TY bears, Magic (the gathering) cards, tulips (Holland in the 1600's), have no instrinstic value, except what people ascribe to them, often times for sentimental reasons.
College degrees have value to them. The university system is approximately 800 years old. In the old days, before public education, there was a wide margin between those with formal colleg training, and those without it. Society rewards that training, because that training has value.
In the last 50 years, people are beginning to question the value of college education. Some of this is due to the direct applicability of certain degress (e.g. fine arts major). Others argue that the success of people is innate, and any particular college doe snot add much value. Whether you believe that a college adds value in the form of direct knowledge (classes), personal growth (simply spending 4 years with other smart people), or even as just a filter (people who end up at top schools tend to be more successful per capita then people at community colleges, so by hiring one, you're odds are better at getting a good employee), there is real value. The preception of the value stems from the economic utility provided by the college alumni.
WRT to yourself, remember that colleges don't teach software development. You were, for the most part, orthogonally trained.

--Mark
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Bob Fred:
Your saying you can be certified but not educated?
Apparently, yes, because I know of several people who never coded a line of java and still managed to get certified. They studied to pass the certification but they don't know Java.
Abadula Joshi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 126
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
So my original contention is valid. Educators are competitors with the certification process.
Do you agree Abadula?

I am not sure if we should use "competitor" to describe their relationship. They just have different objective in their taks -- school educators train students fundamentals but sometimes they don't care what's the real world technology; certification focus too much on details without testing a person's fundamental senses. Therefore, in these days some small colleges or night schools come up with some program that mixes real world tech with fundamentals. However in top schools professors decline to compromise. Some of them still don't offer any course called "java programming" because they don't think it is a big deal to learn java or .Net or whatever language. They still use C++ in all of those courses. If you think you need java, go ahead and learn it yourself. They want to build a solid CS foundation for students instead of teaching too many real world related details. This is partially because they want their students to continue on their graduate school including PhD program. But, in small colleges their goal is to help students get on IT market. So they can teach students more on practical things than solid theory.
Abadula Joshi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 126
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:
Apparently, yes, because I know of several people who never coded a line of java and still managed to get certified. They studied to pass the certification but they don't know Java.


But that should be called 'cheating' and shouldn't be used to undermine the value of certificates. We are talking about the value of certificate for experienced people.
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 05, 2000
Posts: 13974
Originally posted by Abadula Joshi:
But that should be called 'cheating' and shouldn't be used to undermine the value of certificates. We are talking about the value of certificate for experienced people.

How is it cheating? They studied and took the exam just like anyone else. Where in the certification requirements does it say that you must code x lines of code before taking the test?
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Abadula Joshi:

But that should be called 'cheating' and shouldn't be used to undermine the value of certificates. We are talking about the value of certificate for experienced people.

Cheating implies breakng the rules. They take the test with the same restrictions asd everyone else.
The test doesn't care if you know the fundamentals, or regurgitate answers, or simply guessed and got really really lucky.
With the advent of a strong set of study aids, any test can becomes Chinese Room Experiment.
I have met many SCJPs who are good developers. I have also met SCJPs who are not good developers and do not understand material the SCJP covers; that is, they don't understand the issue, even if they can regurgitate the answer in some situations. By that measure the test is not so useful because I cannot distinguish good developers from not so good developers by using it.
--Mark
Abadula Joshi
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 01, 2002
Posts: 126
Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

How is it cheating? They studied and took the exam just like anyone else. Where in the certification requirements does it say that you must code x lines of code before taking the test?


I used a quote for cheating. I meant it is a subtle thing --- by rule it is NOT cheating; but if these people claim that "I have such high level of programming skill", the statement is false and cheating simply because they don't have such skills.
 
It is sorta covered in the JavaRanch Style Guide.
 
subject: Certifications revisited (was: Javaranch's image discussion)