Trivial Pursuit, Drupal Edition

By , Chief Executive Officer
March 20th, 2014, 7:57 pm

I understand the value of a certification to Acquia in their ecosystem, and I appreciate that they named it after their company rather than Drupal itself. It’s a play from Oracle’s book that could conceivably make the Acquia-verse larger and more integrated.

It’s still disappointing, though, and not something that resonates with my opinion on where our industry ought to go—digital professionals should be measured by what they’ve done and in what context, how they’ve helped their clients or employers, and what they’ve shared with others. Not by a multiple-choice test.

Multiple-choice is a bizarre format for a software development test.

I would have guessed such a certification would require you to make a relatively complex Drupal site or prove that you have before, but it seems not to. The exam’s description specifies that the format will be multiple-choice and multiple-response. These types are blunt measurements. Edutopia’s “New Reasons to Dislike Multiple-Choice Testing” argues that a multiple-choice question “manufacturers the illusion of right and wrong, a binary condition that ignores the endlessly fluid nature of information.” Endlessly fluid nature of information? Sounds like web development to me.

Nobody needs this but Acquia.

The market for skilled Drupal developers is already very tight, and developers do not need a special badge to get a job. Similarly, most employers don’t need another signal to hire developers. As far as I can tell, this certification benefits only Acquia. OK, maybe it also benefits bad programmers who are good test-takers.

Rating developers is a race to the bottom.

It’s dehumanizing to consider anyone a fungible resource, and creating a rating system is a bad step in that direction. Software developers often suffer from that perception—but what we do is creative, generative work requiring deep, sustained thought.

Karen McGrane put it best: “The problem with certification is it defines a floor. What companies need is people who can define a higher ceiling.”