[lpi-discuss] [LPI-News] Linux Professional Institute changes Recertification Policy

Anselm Lingnau anselm.lingnau at linupfront.de
Mon Dec 4 08:30:21 EST 2006

Scott Lamberton wrote:

> Every time one takes an exam the retake policy is sent out with the
> results.  As well, the retake policy is noted on the candidate area page.

When I took my last exam the retake policy still was »never, unless the 
objectives have changed«, and they changed very rarely. Forgive me for not 
checking back on this every other week :^)

> the Technical Advisory Council (which as you know
> recently had a public meeting in Germany at LW Cologne)

Right. I was present at that meeting, as was a whole zoo of LPI luminaries, 
many of whom are also subscribing to this list. Of course as that meeting was 
supposed be a *technical* meeting, any mention of upcoming changes to 
existing policy would have been outside its purview, thus didn't take 
place :^). It didn't occur to us to ask, so this may have been our fault.

Incidentally, I co-staffed the LPI booth at LWE Cologne for quite some 
considerable time, with folks from both LPI German and LPI International 
dashing hither and yon, and did have the opportunity to chat informally with 
them as well. I can assure you positively that nobody in my presence let slip 
even the faintest hint of a vague indication that a recertification policy 
change was even on the table. One might be forgiven the supposition that 
someone, anyone, might have sidled up to me casually and asked something 
along the lines of »As you're a senior instructor of some standing with the 
leading commercial training provider for LPI preparation here in Germany, 
we're thinking of tweaking the recertification policy like so, how do you 
think this will go over with the LPI scene in Germany in general and your 
customers in particular?«. Germany, as you're sure to know, is one of the two 
leading countries in the world as far as LPI uptake is concerned, and one 
would naïvely expect there to be particular interest within LPI in the German 
position on radical changes like these. I'll be making a point of asking 
around whether *anyone* from the German LPI community even suspected (let 
alone knew) that this was in the works before it was announced by you as a 
fait accompli.

Now, from what I've seen so far in the various LPI-oriented forums here in 
Germany, the feelings aired there concerning this policy change are best 
described as outrage and disappointment. You, or more precisely MY COLLEAGUES 
AND I out here in the boonies, are going to have some serious convincing to 
do so that the punters may at some stage believe that this change that you 
landed on us (and them) like a ton of rocks is actually a good thing. If 
nothing else, we would have appreciated *some* advance warning of this so we 
could have been able to explain things better ON YOUR BEHALF, to these people 
who are not just our customers but also YOURS, and part of this 
wonderful »community« you're so proud of.

We used to tell people »the LPI believes that Linux knowledge never really 
goes out of date, so there's no recertification requirement«, then we changed 
over to »the LPI still believes that Linux knowledge never really goes out of 
date but they also really, really wanted to be NOCA certified themselves so 
they put the period at 10 years because that was the maximum NOCA would 
allow«, and now it's »Linux moves so fast that LPI says you really should 
recertify after two years but you have to after five if you want to stay 
ACTIVE«? What's the party line going to be next year? Or, to put it even more 
bluntly, if over time you acquire a reputation with your candidates and 
alumni for rescinding on your previous promises (even with the best of 
intentions, to be sure, and after lots of consultation with major industry 
representatives, yadda yadda), then who is to say for sure that next year LPI 
isn't going to do the »LPIP« thing that Bryan suggested the other day? All 
for the good of »the community«, of course! (I can see now how I would spin 
this if I had to.)

When recertification was first introduced, the LPI did »the right thing« by 
grandfathering the certificates that existed before a reasonable cutoff date. 
This is something people can buy into. They did something when some explicit 
conditions were in force and basically both sides are expected to stick to 
these conditions. Consider free software licensing -- the copyright owner of 
a software package may at some point decide to »take it proprietary«, to 
release future versions only under some non-free license, but the 
pre-existing free code stays with the community indefinitely, free. It is 
something that the Linux community understands very well, and supports, but 
retroactively changing the terms of the LPI certificate feels like a 
retroactive software license change, thus creating considerable »cognitive 
dissonance«. Mind you, I'm not disputing your legal right to do as you please 
as far as the terms of the LPI certification are concerned. However, if you 
claim to have consulted »the community« on this and they said »great, this is 
what we've been waiting for all along«, pardon me for wondering exactly *who* 
you did ask, as I've yet to talk to anybody hereabouts who thinks this is 
anything less than outrageous, not because of the number of years but mostly 
because of the retroactiveness.

As an aside, when the 10-year recertification policy came up, there was some 
noise about special »recertification exams« that LPI alumni would be able to 
take. These would focus on the areas that actually did change as opposed to 
re-testing those that had stayed the same (for example, the GNU text utilties 
basically haven't changed since the mid-1980s, hence re-testing alumni on 
them every five years seems a bit futile), so that people could take a single 
exam to recertify rather than two. Is that still on your radar?


(This is my personal opinion and not that of Linup Front GmbH.)
Anselm Lingnau ... Linup Front GmbH ... Linux-, Open-Source- & Netz-Schulungen
Linup Front GmbH, Postfach 100121, 64201 Darmstadt, Germany
anselm.lingnau at linupfront.de, +49(0)6151-9067-103, Fax -299, www.linupfront.de

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