CCIE Pursuit Blog

June 9, 2008

CertGuard CEO Accuses Ethan Banks of Cheating

A few days ago Ethan Banks posted a comment on a year old post (congratulating him on passing his written exam at Networkers last year) stating that his comment had lead some folks to believe that he cheated on his CCIE written exam.  Today I read a post on CCIE Journey about Certguard and how there was a recent posting on Network World’s Cisco Subnet blog about Certguard slandering “a certain individual that was able to obtain his CCIE on his first attempt.”

I surfed over to Cisco Subnet and found this article:

Should this CCIE have his cert stripped?

This article is basically a summary of the original posting:

Certification Integrity: Should this CCIE have his certs stripped for cheating?

In this posting Robert Williams of CertGuard refers to a comment that Ethan left on my blog in response to another comment about test prep materials.  The material in question was a product from TestKing which Williams describes as “a well known cheating tool”.  He takes Ethan to task for “promoting the use of Testking” and ends the posting with this:

Is there a fine line between cheating and using braindumps to enforce your knowledge of the materials before taking an exam? I’m sure in all his experience and training that he [Ethan] already knew the equipment inside and out, and could have passed the exam without the use of braindumps. If that’s so, why did he even need to reference a braindump? Ok, the point isn’t that a CCIE memorized a few questions. The real point here is that he admittedly violated Cisco’s Candidate Conduct Policy (whether he knew it or not).In doing so, he has not only put his certifications at risk (as does everyone that cheats), he has effectively devalued the certifications of all the other Cisco certified professionals that have earned their certifications without resorting to braindumps.

From what I can tell, Ethan has a large following of people that look up to him. Although it is a big deal that he memorized stolen exam questions to help him obtain his CCIE, what’s worse is that he is promoting the use of those braindumps in front of potentially millions of Cisco exam candidates.

What does this say for the CCIE Program?

Holy crap.  I felt sick to my stomach reading this.  I can’t imagine how Ethan felt.

I don’t have a lot of time to address the entire braindump issue in this post as I am at work.  I will also be “off the grid” for the next 24 hours or so (venturing into the Internet free zone that is my mother’s house).  I do want to address a couple of points though.

Did Ethan cheat on his CCIE written exam?  I don’t know.  Only Ethan knows the answer to that question.  Do I think that he cheated?  No.  Here’s why:

1) Ethan took the newest version of the CCIE written exam shortly after it debuted.  This version of the exam was released June 19, 2007.  Ethan passed his exam on July 23, 2007.  I don’t know if ALL of the questions changed in the new version, but I would guess that a significant number of them did.  Also the short amount of time between the introduction of the new exam and when Ethan passed it really limits the amount of “braindump” material that would have been available to him.  Also, if he planned to cheat, why not take the exam before the version change?  Presumably there would be much more braindump material available for that version.

2) Ethan posted detailed notes and study plans for the CCIE Written exam starting in January of 2007.  All of this is posted on his blog.  Why type thousands of words, read hundreds of pages, and spend the time to create detailed notes if you can just cheat?

3) Ethan was not influenced by anything other than his own desire to attain the CCIE.  What I mean to say is that he was not under the gun to pass the CCIE written due to a contract, certification renewal, consulting firm vendor status, etc.  If I remember right, the exam cost was included in his Networkers’ pass, so he really wasn’t on the line for $300 if he failed.  If he felt that he was not prepared, then he could always reschedule the exam.

Anyhoo…like I said none of this means that he didn’t cheat, but it sure does not fit the pattern of someone who would cheat.  Ethan is an experienced network engineer who studied for six months to pass the CCIE written exam and documented this all online.  He also passed his CCIE lab on the first attempt which is not consistent with someone who simply memorized a braindump in order to pass the written exam.

I think that what CertGuard is attempting to accomplish is noble and much needed (I’ll touch more on that in another post) BUT I think that in this case Williams jumped the gun a bit by fingering Ethan.

1) Williams notes that TestKing is a “a well known cheating tool”.  That’s debatable.  Williams has mentioned that he’s spent 1000s of hours researching braindumps so maybe he assumes that TestKing is well known.  I have heard the name before but I did not associate them with braindumps.  Admittedly I did not have a lot of time to research this, but does CertGuard have a published list of known braindump vendors?  

2) Did Ethan really violate the NDA policy?  He admitted to looking at/using (I’m not sure if TeskKing sells textfiles or practice tests) material that he states did not contain any actual test questions.  To claim that this is a violation of the NDA is to assert that the material that he used was 1) definitely a braindump, and 2) that Ethan KNEW that it was a braindump.  Jumping to the conclusion that Ethan “memorized stolen exam questions to help him obtain his CCIE” is a completely unfounded assumption and is probably the statement that I have the most trouble with in William’s posting.

3) Did/does Ethan really promote TestKing?  A quick search of his blog shows only two mentions of TestKing, one which directly condemns the vendor (written recently).  I don’t see any promotion of TestKing in his blog.  Admittedly he could have removed any content promoting TestKing, but I’ve read about 90% of his posts and I don’t remember him ever mentioning that he used – much less – endorsed TestKing products.

4) Did Williams contact Ethan before writing his article?  It’s not like Ethan is a shadowy figure hiding in the darker corners of the Internet.  It would have been nice to see what Ethan had to say about the accusations. 

5) Ethan better not be getting millions of hits!!!  🙂

Anyhoo…this is an interesting issue.  My take on it is that Ethan most likely did not cheat and that – although I support CertGuard’s mission – I think that they (well Williams at least) used a bit too much hyperbole and most likely missed the boat with this insinuation.  I may be a bit biased in that I really enjoy Ethan’s blog and he is an inspiration and I would have his baby if he asked me, but I tried to be as objective as I can be in this posting.  I don’t think that Williams is a bad guy, but I really would have liked to have heard both sides in this issue rather than just some assumptions based on a couple of blog comments.

Like I mentioned, I will be offline for the next 24 hours or so.  If you leave a comment in that time, please don’t think that I am censoring you.  I will approve the comments when I return.

 

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17 Comments »

  1. Hmmm. Welcome the the sticky side of certification. I’m sure everyone knows a person that has managed to pass many tests using Testking/Pass4Sure/etc and wouldn’t know an enable prompt if it hit them in the side of the head. But at the same time, saying that Ethan should have his certs pulled because at one point he might have looked over a TK printout is like calling a baseball player out because he didn’t touch first base after hitting a home run. While it is technically the rule, we ignore the fact that the player hit a ball 400+ feet (or in Ethan’s case, passed a grueling 8 hour lab exam with zero opportunity to cheat) because he didn’t jump through a required hoop first. It think the fact that Ethan has a number now is proof that he is more than able to get through anything Cisco can throw at him.

    After reading through the comments on the Network World site, Robert Williams has suggested that rather than stripping Ethan of all his certs, Ethan should instead be required to ‘simply’ retake them all to prove he can pass. Which is basically like stripping all his certs, only he can take them all again to prove he can pass. But, since most of the exams Ethan has passed haven’t changed test numbers recently, he will most likely already have knowledge of what’s on them, so he invalidates one of Mr. Williams’ criteria (listed here: http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/28444#comment-182985).

    And while I too will try to keep my comment fair and unbiased, do have a look around the CertGuard website if you haven’t already. Their main business? Telling other people whether or not they are using illegal study materials. So, this kind of thing is right up their alley. However, they aren’t going after the businesses that take money from you, take your tests for you and send you the certificates (those exist). No, they are taking a popular blogger and making a federal case about his study methods. And I’m sure all the extra press isn’t hurting them at all.

    Comment by Tom Hollingsworth — June 9, 2008 @ 3:41 pm | Reply

  2. I think it is sad that Robert Williams decided to represent the entire IT community with such a malicious and irresponsible article. The point that Robert Williams MISSED entirely is that Ethan HAD to sit for the CCIE lab exam and pass the exam. Someone that cheats typically will get caught up when it comes down to actually producing and performing on the 100% hands on lab. I read the NWW posts that some people think he should have his certifications stripped or retake exams that is absolutely ridiculous.

    Robert Williams and his company Certguard seem to have an ulterior motive, I think they maliciously went after Ethan since he is a newly minted CCIE to make an example of. Really bad move.

    Comment by Erica — June 9, 2008 @ 5:29 pm | Reply

  3. I am disgusted and saddened to hear that Robert Williams has made these accusations. As already pointed out Ethan managed to pass the CCIE lab and so his skills and knowledge are beyond doubt. Williams is obviously beating up publicity for his company by slandering a popular member of the CCIE community. The fact that Certguard needs to resort to such tactics shows how weak their business really is.

    Comment by Ash — June 11, 2008 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  4. Interesting… Personally I think certguard need to pull their heads in and make sure they have 100% facts before they have a go at individuals such as Ethan Banks (his site is down today?).

    The Exam Agreement I agreed to prior to doing my written made mention of not using “stolen exam questions”. Of course I did not remember the whole agreement.. I am sure I could find it somewhere if required. However, if Ethan did use one (I say IF) then does he deserve to get his Status revoked? I don’t think so… He passed his written, he passed his lab. There is no evidence apart from a half-cocked dummy spit from Certguard making a rank accusation. Ethan did the study, passed the lab, and that’s it.

    Does anyone at Certguard have their CCIE? Or do they just want website hits?

    Once again, well done Ethan for passing your lab. Certguard, I have a similar opinion on paper cert holders as you guys. I will let ones work performance indicate to me if they deserve their certification or not. Not someone who has no proof of what an individual may or may not have done to pass their exam. It is not like you can dump an 8 hour lab and remember 8 hours of typing anyway. He did a good job, end of story.

    Comment by Matt Hill — June 11, 2008 @ 11:39 pm | Reply

  5. It looks as though Ethan’s site is down at the moment – I know he was having some server stability issues before, and hopefully this is nothing to do with these silly allegations….

    Comment by ccielab — June 12, 2008 @ 3:09 am | Reply

  6. What a fat worthless piece of shit Robert Williams is. I followed Ethan’s journey from just before he passed the written through his success. No one I’ve seen so far is as driven, and organized as Ethan was to pass the exams. Robert Williams is just trying to take his holier than thou attitude and try to call someone out, that he has no business in calling out. The worse he makes others look, the better he thinks it makes him look. A lackluster few years in the Navy as a semen, three year where he tried his hand at school and coudn’t hack it followed by, what he calls 5 years in IT, which means he probably worked a helpdesk resetting passwords was probably the catalyst for his failed idea of a website. His bio reads like that of a quitter. He put his certs “on hold” to start the business. Let me translate: I’m too retarded to memorize the braindump material, nor can I comprehend networking otherwise I would focus my efforts on learning and obtaining certifications to benchmark my knowledge. That’s it I’m done.

    Comment by shifty — June 12, 2008 @ 12:21 pm | Reply

  7. Where is our friend Mr. William’s been? Its been rather quiet…

    Could it be that he stuck his foot in his mouth and is being sued for Libel? I know if he pulled what he did on Ethan Banks I would have sent him a nice letter from my attorney. This probably explains Ethan’s website being shut down. He is probably launching an attack against Mr. Williams. I hope he puts the nails to this guy.

    Quoted from enotes.com:
    http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/libel-and-slander

    “A plaintiff who wishes to sue an individual or entity for libel or slander has the burden of proving four claims to a court: First, the plaintiff must show that the DEFENDANT communicated a defamatory statement. Second, the plaintiff must show that the statement was published or communicated to at least one other person besides the plaintiff. Third, the plaintiff must show that the communication was about the plaintiff and that another party receiving the communication could identify the plaintiff as the subject of the defamatory message. Fourth, the plaintiff must show that the communication injured the plaintiff’s reputation.”

    The most damaging of statements our good friend Mr. Williams made, of a defamatory nature, were his matter of fact statements that Ethan cheated to pass the written exam. It’s one thing to have an opinion, it is another to make false accusations about someone in a public forum that is read by industry insiders and countless technical peers.

    Ethan Banks deserves more than an apology. He deserves a payday and a published retraction from Network World. His website is down, that alone must have generated advertising revenue and no longer is. The real biggie is the pain and suffering. I could only imagine the harm this has done to his reputation with these damaging statements. People who read the article have not even been to his website to have a fair view of his awesome CCIE blog since he shut it down!

    Ethan, if you are reading this. Do not quit until your name is cleared, publicly, and these bastards pay for the assault they launched on you.

    ccie.mike

    Comment by ccie.mike — June 12, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

  8. Where are you, Mr. William? Awful quiet around here….

    Could it be that he stuck his foot in his mouth and is being sued for Libel? I know if he pulled what he did on Ethan Banks I would have sent him a nice letter from my attorney. This probably explains Ethan’s website being shut down. He is probably launching an attack against Mr. Williams. I hope he puts the nails to this guy.

    Quoted from enotes.com:
    http://www.enotes.com/everyday-law-encyclopedia/libel-and-slander

    “A plaintiff who wishes to sue an individual or entity for libel or slander has the burden of proving four claims to a court: First, the plaintiff must show that the DEFENDANT communicated a defamatory statement. Second, the plaintiff must show that the statement was published or communicated to at least one other person besides the plaintiff. Third, the plaintiff must show that the communication was about the plaintiff and that another party receiving the communication could identify the plaintiff as the subject of the defamatory message. Fourth, the plaintiff must show that the communication injured the plaintiff’s reputation.”

    The most damaging of statements our good friend Mr. Williams made, of a defamatory nature, were his matter of fact statements that Ethan cheated to pass the written exam. It’s one thing to have an opinion, it is another to make false accusations about someone in a public forum that is read by industry insiders and countless technical peers.

    Ethan Banks deserves more than an apology. He deserves a payday and a published retraction from Network World. His website is down, that alone must have generated advertising revenue and no longer is. The real biggie is the pain and suffering. I could only imagine the harm this has done to his reputation with these damaging statements. People who read the article have not even been to his website to have a fair view of his awesome CCIE blog since he shut it down!

    Ethan, if you are reading this. Do not quit until your name is cleared, publicly, and these bastards pay for the assault they launched on you.

    ccie.mike

    Comment by ccie.mike — June 12, 2008 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  9. What’s really interesting is I don’t get how CertGuard get’s their info as to what constitutes ‘stolen’ material. Are they taking tests and then comparing to testking, or vice versa? They’re not sponsored or supported by Cisco, so how are they doing this comparision without also violating NDA?

    Or maybe he’s just a liar?

    Comment by Larry — June 12, 2008 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  10. Here’s my post to NetworkWorld:
    ===============================

    All,

    I’ve read many comments after I received a phone call this evening from a close friend mine who was a recent class-mate of Mr. Ethan Banks.

    I also attended a class that Ethan Banks attended. I actually sat next to the man for a full week, while he toiled through the materials and asked some of the most brilliant questions that were presented to the instructor that same week.

    Ethan is a true network engineer, a solid network engineer. It appears he made a comment that has a few people who do know Ethan very well riled up and a lot of us who do know Ethan personally very concerned the man.

    I, myself, have been quoted on certguard’s site as a reference in the past. I think I’ve been quote on half the Internet by now.

    Any reading can quote me now:

    Ethan Banks is one of the few CCIE’s that I have had the pleasure of knowing who actually “Define the CCIE Program”.

    Did you read that correctly?

    I said Ethan Banks defines the credibility of the CCIE Program.

    He studied, he took the time to tell people how he studied, and yes he had the #1 CCIE Blog on the Internet. He showed it to me in class and in my own estimation then as I tell you know it was quite formidable and of a class that equalled the vendors in terms of clear and concise explanations.

    Ethan is a CCIE, and no one can take that from him.

    Now, readers of this blog may or may not know of me, but I know the CCIE, the NDA (I just kind of click next these days and don’t bother much with surveys as I whiz through certifications that I either pass or fail as my own time and budget allow for).

    I know what the CCIE Program stands for. It is not a test designed for people who just want to pass a written exam or a lab exam. Nope. It’s not that.

    It’s designed to be a test to measure the ability of a CCIE candidate to be a better class of network engineer.

    That better class of network engineer, is what Ethan Banks is. Nothing less and nothing more.

    Anyone doubt my ability to estimate the skills of any systems and network engineer? Call me we can talk about it personally. I’ve interviewed many a systems engineer and network engineers and by now I know the difference between a “dumper” and a real “quality” network engineer.

    So back to the point. Ethan mentioned the Testking and the exam… Hmmm…

    Ouch! That sucks.

    Ok – I’m over it.

    Now what I really want to see is Ethan’s blog get back on the Internet where it belongs.

    You want to blame Ethan for Testking or other people cheating the exam…

    Hmmm…

    Ethan did not write any exam questions from what I can see. Did he?

    Actually I’d be more concerned that Network World is actually fueling those companies publicly and giving any sense of validity to their claims of providing a real exam.

    I’d be more concerned about companies that want to make a profit from this venture. Sounds kind of like vultures.

    And yes, anyone who wants to research me and my posts… well I’ve made a few libraries worth by now… ouch! I pity someone’s eyes. 🙂

    Here’s one of my own from back in 2006 when Microsoft went after Testking (TK):

    Hmmm… Well, well, well… Full circle… There was a time when ole MS was being sued for Copyright Infringement and now it finally gets a chance to sue someone as well… Kinda funny in some respects. MS strove to make the tests more obscure (not book based) since the test cannot be derived from any one source, not even Official Curriculum. Not Hands-on for obvious reasons. Hmmm… Who’s to blame TK for copyright infringement? The buyers fro buying these materials? The Bootcamp Instructors for leaking where to get them? MS for making it necessary for a frustrated student to turn to the dark path? Employers for making certs a practical and sometimes unwritten requirement? I mean who really is holding the smoking gun? Everyone has profitted from this industry and many test-takers have taken second mortgages and have up to over $100,000.00 in education costs over the year, etc. I guess it is only right to let the legal profession start to cash in as well.

    Notice I mention everyone who has profitted from this industry. Anyone is this article stand to profit?

    Pin the tail on the donkey.

    Ethan is not the problem. He’s a part of a system.

    Unless you want to tell me that Cisco keeps poison snakes near the playground and then tells the kids not to play with them since they “bite”.

    Hmmm…

    You can change the name to CompTIA or Microsoft or most any other vendor.

    ———————–

    I’d rather ask another question:

    With 500,000+ people per certification at $150.00 and up a pop…

    Why do certain vendors not have the ability to have bigger test banks or test banks that are not changed more frequently in the first place?

    Not that I assume to know how many questions are on any given exam…

    But if one takes a visit to one of these “real exam” sites… some exams only show a handful of questions.

    Ouch!!!!

    Anyone think that could be part of the problem?

    Learn 40 questions, and earn a certification.

    The problem is not CertGuard, it not any vendor, it is not Ethan Banks (sorry it is not his fault).

    It is the fault of people like me and the guys at CertGuard and other Subject-Matter-Experts.

    It’s our fault. I myself have been asked no less than three times so far to be a Subject-Matter-Expert for CCIE RS Program and the Security+ from CompTIA and I did not have the time…

    As a practicing professional, I did not have the time to go and voice my own opinions, even when offered, a stipend for accomodations, and an honorarium, among other things… like free classes, certificates, and shirts, etc.

    Who else is at fault? Who? Is it you or someone you work with?

    ==========================

    Now since Pandorra’s Bos is opened fully wide, what are we as employers going to do about it?

    Stop the certification process?

    What about labs… word is they cannot be cheated on?

    I read Wendell Odom’s posts saying add more CLI to the CCNA and other exams…

    Hmmm… Not so fast… What stops them from mimicking that scenario too?

    What about the famous CCIE Lab? What stops people from leaking it? The NDA?

    ———————————–

    If you want to stop the cheating, stop it at wherever you work. Demand a hands-on interview – we are big guys who are skilled and knoweldgeable. We can take it.

    Put us up in front of a whiteboard and ask us to create a network on the fly (according to our level of certification) and then ask us why we chose the devices we would prefer to use, why we chose the protocols in question, and what would happen if we decided to use another model of gear instead of the one the candidate chose – then ask them why… and better yet how to upgrade it with minimal impact.

    This is what we do… Ethan Banks can do this. He can, I assure you of this. I know him personally and he’s a sharp cookie.

    In fact, if he wished he could instruct as a CCIE level instructor on many issues and if I should stand corrected – he definately can teach CCNP/CCNA level among other certs.

    To summarize:

    1. Ethan is a capable quality engineer. He really is.

    2. I think dragging such a person through the pits is really distasteful. Sorry if he mentioned a bad item in his blog. Technically, I think he could write the book for the CCIE Written exam, I’ve just finished working through the CCIE Press book and personally I’d buy Ethan’s book if it were anything like his blog.

    3. I’m an Ethan Banks fan. I’ll admit I don’t use the site daily, but visit occassionaly but everything from Ethan is professional or at least was till this attack.

    4. I do understand the author’s perspective, and if the author is getting paid by Testking, I’d really understand things better. Since now those guys are definately getting the promotion they ever could have asked for in an eternity.

    5. I think Networkworld owes Testking for the bandwidth that this article has pushed their way. If I were Testking, I’d be getting my lawyers out…

    6. Seriously this has only helped Testking, and no one else.

    7. Did I tell you what I thought of Ethan Banks: The quality network engineer. Yes, he can stand scrutiny.

    8. Real CCIE Candidates have lost the best blog on the Internet as a result of this… (I know the rettort – “Ethan brought it on himself”)… Nevertheless the real losers are those people who were shown by Ethan Banks and other CCIE Candidates what it takes to become a real CCIE. Those guys lost here… and there are a lot of them out there.

    9. Demand a hands-on lab even from a CCIE who passed a lab. There’s no halo out there. Get over it.

    I never thought that NetworkWorld would benefit Testking and advertise for it and get so many endorsements from yet another company whose stated purpose is to attack entities like Testking.

    Makes one wonder who works for whom these days… Anyone else sitting back reading this wondering?

    Ouch!

    Things can get twisted pretty quiAll,

    I’ve read many comments after I received a phone call this evening from a close friend mine who was a recent CCIE class-mate of Mr. Ethan Banks.

    I also attended a CCIE class that Ethan Banks attended. I actually sat next to the man for a full week, while he toiled through the materials and asked some of the most brilliant questions that were presented to the instructor that same week.

    Ethan is a true network engineer, a solid network engineer. It appears he made a comment that has a few people who do know Ethan very riled up and a lot of us who do know Ethan personally very concerned for the man. Ethan is a very straight forward person and possess a certain integrity (of course, the authors will denounce that integrity by virtue of a post a made on a website – that I, myself, am now unable to verify firsthand today).

    I, myself, have been quoted on certguard’s site as a reference in the past. I think I’ve been quoted on half the Internet by now for one thing or another but I doubt for braindumps and such.

    Any reading can quote me now:

    Ethan Banks is one of the few CCIE’s that I have had the pleasure of knowing who actually “Define the CCIE Program”. Ethan Banks is a CCIE, he can walk it, he can talk it, and most importantly he can do it – I sat next to him for about 60-70 hours and can personally attest to the fact. I said it because I know it to be a fact and if you doubt me… break out the bible and prepare for the oath.

    Now I met Ethan in February of 2008. So I understand the quote was taken from 8/2007. Hmmm… it’s just my wild idea of a guess but I truly doubt that anyone could go from… “Hey I got no earthly clue about a CCIE Written exam in August to… I’m a fast-typing CCIE junkie who can’t wait to sit the exam in like 4-5 months…”

    That just does not happen. It does not happen. If anyone reading this thinks it does email me and I’d be happy to tell you first hand – IT DOES NOT HAPPEN.

    It takes some years of prep for a person to get ready for the Lab exam and judging by Ethan’s absolute command of the CLI in February, there is no possible way he could not have known this stuff cold a few months earlier. Nope, I don’t believe it.

    Now… I would comment on my own thoughts on the CCIE Written Exam and it’s relationship to the CCIE Lab, except having taken the CCIE Lab (unsuccessfully so far), I’m bound by the NDA, that all of us try to honor.

    I will say this though. I’ve taken 4 CCIE Written Exams that I have passed and at least one that I failed since about 2001 or so and I do belive they are highly relevant to the CCIE Lab. I do think they show a certain indication of skill with the Cisco IOS and understanding of complex network details and issues.

    It is my personal and professional opinion of Ethan Banks that he most likely would have been very capable of passing a CCIE-level written qualification exam just by the fact, there is very little way someone can fake that level of accomplishment or learn it so completely and effortlessly as Ethan displayed in February of 2008. Sorry it don’t add up.

    Example a co-worker of mine took and passed the CCIE Written about a year ago at or about the middle of the year, he subsequently failed the CCIE Written at least 2 times before as I understand it. The guy is a walking RFC. A recent comment between him and I was “If you are selected as a CCIE RS SME, then what am I?”… my reply… “A walking RFC!”.

    Did you read that correctly?

    I said Ethan Banks defines the credibility of the CCIE Program. I stand by this, so take a pen and write it down.

    He studied, he took the time to tell people how he studied, and yes he had the #1 CCIE Blog on the Internet. He showed it to me in class and in my own estimation then as I tell you know it was quite formidable. It was of a class/quality that equalled the vendors in terms of clear and concise explanations. In fact, I think that InternetworkExpert started their own blog around the same time or soon after.

    Ethan is a CCIE, and no one can take that from him.

    Now, readers of this blog may or may not know of me, but I know the CCIE, the NDA (I just kind of click next these days and don’t bother much with surveys as I whiz through certifications that I either pass or fail as my own time and budget allow for).

    I know what the CCIE Program stands for. It is not a test designed for people who just want to pass a written exam or a lab exam. Nope. It’s not that.

    It’s designed to be a test to measure the ability of a CCIE candidate to be a better class of network engineer.

    That better class of network engineer, is what Ethan Banks is. Nothing less and nothing more.

    Anyone doubt my ability to estimate the skills of any systems and network engineer? Call me we can talk about it personally. I’ve interviewed many a systems engineer and network engineers and by now I know the difference between a “dumper” and a real “quality” network engineer.

    So back to the point. Ethan mentioned the Testking and the exam… Hmmm…

    Ouch! That sucks.

    Ok – I’m over it.

    Now what I really want to see is Ethan’s blog get back on the Internet where it belongs.

    You want to blame Ethan for Testking or other people cheating the exam…

    Hmmm…

    Ethan did not write any exam questions from what I can see. Did he?

    Actually I’d be more concerned that Network World is actually fueling those companies publicly and giving any sense of validity to their claims of providing a real exam.

    I’d be more concerned about companies that want to make a profit from this venture. Sounds kind of like vultures.

    And yes, anyone who wants to research me and my posts… well I’ve made a few libraries worth by now… ouch! I pity someone’s eyes. 🙂

    Here’s one of my own from back in 2006 when Microsoft went after Testking (TK):

    Hmmm… Well, well, well… Full circle… There was a time when ole MS was being sued for Copyright Infringement and now it finally gets a chance to sue someone as well… Kinda funny in some respects. MS strove to make the tests more obscure (not book based) since the test cannot be derived from any one source, not even Official Curriculum. Not Hands-on for obvious reasons. Hmmm… Who’s to blame TK for copyright infringement? The buyers fro buying these materials? The Bootcamp Instructors for leaking where to get them? MS for making it necessary for a frustrated student to turn to the dark path? Employers for making certs a practical and sometimes unwritten requirement? I mean who really is holding the smoking gun? Everyone has profitted from this industry and many test-takers have taken second mortgages and have up to over $100,000.00 in education costs over the year, etc. I guess it is only right to let the legal profession start to cash in as well.

    Notice I mention everyone who has profitted from this industry. Anyone is this article stand to profit?

    Pin the tail on the donkey.

    Ethan is not the problem. He’s a part of a system.

    Unless you want to tell me that Cisco keeps poison snakes near the playground and then tells the kids not to play with them since they “bite”.

    Hmmm…

    You can change the name to CompTIA or Microsoft or most any other vendor.

    ———————–

    I’d rather ask another question:

    With 500,000+ people per certification at $150.00 and up a pop…

    Why do certain vendors not have the ability to have bigger test banks or test banks that are not changed more frequently in the first place?

    Not that I assume to know how many questions are on any given exam…

    But if one takes a visit to one of these “real exam” sites… some exams only show a handful of questions.

    Ouch!!!!

    Anyone think that could be part of the problem?

    Learn 40 questions, and earn a certification.

    The problem is not CertGuard, it not any vendor, it is not Ethan Banks (sorry it is not his fault).

    It is the fault of people like me and the guys at CertGuard and other Subject-Matter-Experts.

    It’s our fault. I myself have been asked no less than three times so far to be a Subject-Matter-Expert for CCIE RS Program and the Security+ from CompTIA and I did not have the time…

    As a practicing professional, I did not have the time to go and voice my own opinions, even when offered, a stipend for accomodations, and an honorarium, among other things… like free classes, certificates, and shirts, etc.

    Who else is at fault? Who? Is it you or someone you work with?

    ==========================

    Now since Pandorra’s Bos is opened fully wide, what are we as employers going to do about it?

    Stop the certification process?

    What about labs… word is they cannot be cheated on?

    I read Wendell Odom’s posts saying add more CLI to the CCNA and other exams…

    Hmmm… Not so fast… What stops them from mimicking that scenario too?

    What about the famous CCIE Lab? What stops people from leaking it? The NDA?

    ———————————–

    If you want to stop the cheating, stop it at wherever you work. Demand a hands-on interview – we are big guys who are skilled and knoweldgeable. We can take it.

    Put us up in front of a whiteboard and ask us to create a network on the fly (according to our level of certification) and then ask us why we chose the devices we would prefer to use, why we chose the protocols in question, and what would happen if we decided to use another model of gear instead of the one the candidate chose – then ask them why… and better yet how to upgrade it with minimal impact.

    This is what we do… Ethan Banks can do this. He can, I assure you of this. I know him personally and he’s a sharp cookie.

    In fact, if he wished he could instruct as a CCIE level instructor on many issues and if I should stand corrected – he definately can teach CCNP/CCNA level among other certs.

    To summarize:

    1. Ethan is a capable quality engineer. He really is.

    2. I think dragging such a person through the pits is really distasteful. Sorry if he mentioned a bad item in his blog. Technically, I think he could write the book for the CCIE Written exam, I’ve just finished working through the CCIE Press book and personally I’d buy Ethan’s book if it were anything like his blog.

    3. I’m an Ethan Banks fan. I’ll admit I don’t use the site daily, but visit occassionaly but everything from Ethan is professional or at least was till this attack.

    4. I do understand the author’s perspective, and if the author is getting paid by Testking, I’d really understand things better. Since now those guys are definately getting the promotion they ever could have asked for in an eternity.

    5. I think Networkworld owes Testking for the bandwidth that this article has pushed their way. If I were Testking, I’d be getting my lawyers out…

    6. Seriously this has only helped Testking, and no one else.

    7. Did I tell you what I thought of Ethan Banks: The quality network engineer. Yes, he can stand scrutiny.

    8. Real CCIE Candidates have lost the best blog on the Internet as a result of this… (I know the rettort – “Ethan brought it on himself”)… Nevertheless the real losers are those people who were shown by Ethan Banks and other CCIE Candidates what it takes to become a real CCIE. Those guys lost here… and there are a lot of them out there.

    9. Demand a hands-on lab even from a CCIE who passed a lab. There’s no halo out there. Get over it.

    I never thought that NetworkWorld would benefit Testking and advertise for it and get so many endorsements from yet another company whose stated purpose is to attack entities like Testking.

    Makes one wonder who works for whom these days… Anyone else sitting back reading this wondering?

    Ouch!

    Things can get twisted pretty quickly on the Internet and if you blink, you might miss something.

    Anyway… Ethan if you read this, you have my side of it and what I think of you and your skills my friend.

    Anyone else, I think I already countered most of the things you might seek to address in my post. 🙂

    Sorry, thought I would save you the time. I’m a bit of an old hand at this and understand that people will seek to twist my words or meanings sometimes…

    No mistake here: Ethan Banks is a Quality Network Engineer – the one and the same type that the Cisco Program Leads wanted to create when they envisioned the program.

    I think it reads something like this:

    The CCIE program is designed to create CCIE’s, quality network engineers, not merely people who can pass an exam.

    Comment by Darby Weaver — June 12, 2008 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

  11. Sorry I think my post got mangled somewhere. Ouch!

    Comment by Darby Weaver — June 12, 2008 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  12. Show me the Cisco policy where it says you can’t use brain dumps for the written exam.

    Comment by bam — June 13, 2008 @ 3:49 am | Reply

  13. […] few days ago I posted about an article on Network World’s site in which Robert Williams of CertGuard accused Ethan Banks of cheating on his CCIE written exam.  At […]

    Pingback by CertGuard: Certification Integrity? « CCIE Pursuit — June 13, 2008 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

  14. I’m not sure of CertGuard’s real agenda, as there doesn’t appear to be alot of transparency with their business and the actual exam vendors (cisco, microsoft etc), especially with their claims and attitude regarding the use of dynamips/dynagen as a study tool.

    However, everyone really should do their research on any so called study/lab guide before using them, a quick google search can show opinions of what’s legit and what isn’t.

    Comment by nullrouter — June 15, 2008 @ 5:29 am | Reply

  15. The thread was amended all replies were removed.

    Ethan has been exonerated.

    Whew!

    Now we wait for Ethan.

    I’m glad everyone came to terms.

    Darby

    Comment by Darby Weaver — June 17, 2008 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  16. Blog posts like this one continue to damage Ethan. This doesn’t do justice to the situation because it’s still a mob mentality.

    Comment by Gregory Hines — June 17, 2008 @ 6:15 pm | Reply

  17. I know Ethan requested that we not post and remove things earlier. I did respect his wishes where I could.

    🙂

    Comment by Darby Weaver — June 19, 2008 @ 7:33 pm | Reply


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