[Linux-aus] Accreditation vs. due diligence (Was: Interview with Mark Lloyd from ACS on compulsory accreditation)

Nathan Bailey Nathan.Bailey at its.monash.edu
Fri Sep 29 12:11:01 UTC 2006

Accreditation is not a quick fix for due diligence.

How do you choose a good bookkeeper? (House/extension) builder?  
Mechanic? Hair stylist?
All these people are likely to have some level of training and  
possibly accreditation. But would you choose them based on their  
accreditation, or on their references, previous case studies, your  
level of comfort and trust, their brand, etc.?

I think a large part of the problem Brent talks about below is the  
perceived high cost of skilled IT work vs. the cheap job I can get  
from Uncle Harry's teenage nephew.
In other areas, we have learnt that cheap doesn't necessarily mean  
good, but we don't seem to have learn it in IT.

The form of accreditation I would like to see is around someone's  
capacity to run a business and provide a service, rather than their  
technological competence. Technological competence should be measured  
by how well they met previous clients needs, how many of their  
previous clients apply for repeat business, how healthy their company  
is/is growing, etc.

I don't need to be a Linux kernel hacker to provide good IT service  
-- in fact, I don't need to know anything about IT at all -- I can  
simply be a good IT broker who works with a bunch of competent  
consultants to provide solutions. But if I did that very well half a  
dozen times, you could be sure I'd be getting good word of mouth  


On 29/09/2006, at 10:16 AM, Brent Wallis wrote:

> Hi
> On 9/29/06, Janet Hawtin <lucychili at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Accreditation by a national body does not in my mind prove an
>> assurance of quality of work. Work can be of any quality once the
>> person has paid up in the academic and membership sense.
>> To my mind the system has nothing to offer which can not be provided
>> by the excellent peer review available through the FOSS community and
>> access to transparent technologies using open source.
> I agree, but  there is a ongoing and growing problem in the FOSS
> community...in the IT industry as a whole.
> Now that Linux is becoming mainstream, every person who can fix uncle
> Harry's PC is coming out of the woodwork and presenting themselves as
> "gurus".
> An analysis of my charged time over the last 2 years (SMB market BTW)
> indicates almost 25% of the work was for "fixing" other peoples lame
> screw ups. I have spent many hours with new clients in an effort to
> have them keep their Linux installs...even though their experience was
> to say the least "bad". In most cases, the "bad" was caused by poor
> implementation and charlatans. I have won some and lost some in that
> regard. Most businesses are risk averse and are unwilling to expose
> themselves to the same trouble.
> A bad Linux installation almost always means that the business in
> question will never look at it again....the MS guys have a penchant
> for finding these people and they love telling the press about how it
> was LINUX and not the tech/s that caused their woes.
> National Accreditation with a honorable professional body is something
> that is meant to address these issues, but as you rightly point out,
> in it's current form this "intention" is getting lost.
> IMHO, FOSS and Linux adoption is being hurt by unscrupulous vendors,
> consultants and fake "technicians". This not unique in FOSS
> either....I am sure everyone has met the arrogant MCSE ..... It's not
> new but the problem is growing.... The thing is that it affects FOSS
> more than guys like MS because of the herd mentality...(eg: if in
> doubt go for the most popular... or in the case of politics, if in
> doubt, vote for the incumbent)
> Something needs to be done... so far, the Industry as a whole has
> settled on a flawed model....as you rightly point out, a centralised
> system of accreditation is not conducive to FOSS because of the
> "lockout" of techs with major clue who just so happen to not have a
> degree.....
> I have a degree ... done late, and I used to think that it was worth
> something......but I have had to work with a couple of illiterate IT
> Masters Grads of late... which for me indicates that even a degree
> these days is not worth the paper its written on.
> I have often thought that a "clue-toe-cratic" (sic ;-) )method of
> accreditation would be better. That is, a scale of competency based on
> the spread of knowledge in a given population. The more someone can
> "show their know to the community", the more they rise to the top.
> In some ways this mirrors  the FOSS dev model.
> Only those above an agreed level of PROVEN competency would get the  
> cred ...
> It would be subject to constant and unrelenting  peer review...
> I believe the parts needed to make this work are already there:
> - Strong orgs like LA and OSIA that can guide (not decide
> ) the accreditation process.
> - A community with enough smarts to make it work.
> - A community with individuals who can help set (and judge) a very
> high level of quality in the outcome.
> - A baseline to start working with namely LPI.
> Businesses need a way to tell if the tech standing in front of them is
> good or not. There will always be good and bad in every profession,
> but the community needs to let the rest of the world know what is
> considered as technically competent and what factors go towards
> creating a masterful FOSS technician.
> Is there not a way that we can leverage the peer review mechanisms in
> FOSS to acheive scales of competency that businesses can refer to?
> Getting it right would be difficult, but the results would have the
> potential to really boost FOSS adoption and retention.
> Rgds
> BW
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