–noun 1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
A 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 that time I mentioned that I thought that Williams had stepped over the line and made accusations based on speculation rather than facts. I wrote that I thought that Williams was not a “bad guy.” After reading Williams’ comments and attempting to get him to address some of his speculative claims, it’s pretty obvious that Williams has an agenda that no amount of facts are going to deviate him from pursuing. I believe (as do others) that Williams libeled Ethan in his article. It can only hope that Ethan “lawyers up” and pursues legal recourse.
Ethan’s site is down. His name and reputation have been sullied. Both are losses to the CCIE community.
I’m not going to waste any more bandwidth addressing the points at which Williams left the realm of reason and drifted into reckless accusations. One can read my original post as well as the comments on Williams’ article if they want. What I do have an issue with is the fact that Network World allows Williams’ article to be hosted on their website. If Williams were to post this garbage on his blog or site, it would receive little attention. Because Williams’ piece is published on the website of the preeminent networking magazine it gives his words both an audience and a credibility which I don’t feel that this smear piece deserves.
I’m not sure what the relationship is between Williams and Network World. Network World gives us Michael Morris, Jeff Doyle, Wendell Odom, and Brad Reese. For them to allow Williams to even be remotely associated with these outstanding writers gives Williams undue credibility.
I sent an email to Jim Duffy, the Managing Editor of Network World outlining Williams accusations and my concern that Network World allows these accusations space on their website.
I don’t know if my email will have any effect. If you feel the same way that I do (or if you feel the opposite) and you have the time, email one or all of the following folks an email with your concerns:
Executive Editor, Online
email@example.com • (508) 490-6433
Contact regarding online content development and online
firstname.lastname@example.org • (716) 655-0103
Covers switching, routing and other network equipment
from Cisco, Nortel and others.
Online Executive Editor, News
email@example.com • (508) 490-6407
Manages news staff and reporters.
This is the last that I will post about this matter. I may have inadvertently hurt Ethan by pushing traffic at Williams’ posting. If that is the case, then I apologize to Ethan. My intentions were to point out an injustice, not to give more exposure to the article.
For those who have not seen Ethan’s comment on this issue, I have reprinted them below along with my email to Jim Duffy.
UPDATE 6/5/2008 – The comment I made above has mislead some people to think I cheated my way through the CCIE written qualification exam.
First off, TestKing and others appear to offer a legitimate practice exams to help a person who is preparing for a certification test. If you don’t know what these companies are about, you can be easily fooled. Certainly, I was one of those. At a glance, TestKing’s website looks as good as Boson’s and other legitimate vendors. TestKing doesn’t tell you that they are selling you the actual test questions.
Second, since becoming aware of what TestKing is really about, I have discouraged the use of this material in several private e-mails to people that have asked me about them, and other similarly-minded vendors (like Pass4Sure).
Third, the specific TestKing study document I referred to here was not a representation what was on the actual written exam. If someone claims that I used TestKing to pass the CCIEwritten exam, they demonstrate both ignorance of my blog in general and my specific study methods which were well documented in my blog over several months.
Comment by Ethan Banks — June 5, 2008 @ 4:15 pm | Edit This
I apologize if you are not the correct person to contact. My email is concerning the Robert Williams: Certification Integrity blog which is found under the Network World Community. If there is a better contact available, please either forward this email on to them and/or respond with their contact information.
On June 5th of this year, Robert Williams published the following article/blog posting:
Certification Integrity: Should this CCIE have his certs stripped for cheating?
/I reviewed some of the older TestKing material during my final review, although it wasn’t a major focus. The good news is that the TK stuff has a lot of the concepts you need to know. But if you’re looking for actual questions that will show up on the exam, I didn’t see that in any of the TK material I looked at.
Comment by Ethan Banks — August 2, 2007 @ 7:19 pm /
From this comment Mr. Williams accuses Mr. Banks of using “a well known cheating tool” (TestKing materials) to “memorize stolen exam questions to help him obtain his CCIE”. He further accuses Mr. Banks of “promoting the use of those braindumps in front of potentially millions of Cisco exam candidates.”
Ethan Banks is (was?) a very popular CCIE blogger who chronicled his progress over the past year and a half while attaining the Cisco CCIE certification. He recently passed the legendarily difficult CCIE lab on his first attempt. In the very limited scope of CCIE bloggers (of whom I am one), he is well known.
From the comment referenced above I believe that Mr. Williams can – at most – claim that Mr. Banks used (I assume that is what “reviewed” means in this case) a product from TestKing. I agree with Mr. Williams on that point. His accusations beyond that seem to be built simply on his own speculations and are both damaging and unprofessional.
According to Mr. Williams, TestKing is a well known vendor of braindumps (which – from reading Mr. Williams postings – are collections of actual certification exam questions and answers). While Mr. Williams may believe that this is a well known fact, he does not explain why he believes that Mr. Banks did (or should) believe the same thing about TestKing.
Mr. Williams goes futher than that and states that Mr. Banks used the TestKing material to “memorize stolen exam questions to help him obtain his CCIE.” This statement is directly contradicted by Mr. Banks; statement that none of the TestKing material that he reviewed contained actual questions. What is it that Mr. Williams believes that Mr. Banks memorized and how did it help him to pass his CCIE written exam? If Mr. Banks memorized questions that did not appear on his exam then didn’t he handicap himself by wasting time and “human RAM” to commit to memory information that did not help him on the exam?
Finally, Mr. Williams claims that Mr. Banks promoted the use of TestKing materials. I did a search of Mr. Banks’ blog (while it was still online) and there were two postings that mentioned TeskKing. Neither posting endorsed the use of TestKing products. One explicitly dismissed TestKing materials as being worthless (to be fair, that posting occurred after Mr. Williams’ posting). If one looks at the comment that Mr. Williams refers to in his article, I suppose that one could interpret Mr. Banks’ statement as a very weak (“…the TK stuff has a lot of the concepts you need to know.”) endorsement of the TestKing material. Since the focus of Mr. Williams’ article is braindumps, it should be noted that as Mr. Banks’ statement is effectively a negative review of the TestKing material as a braindump. He states that the material that he reviewed did not contain any actual exam questions. To me that sounds like he’s saying “this material is good review but it’s not a braindump.”
The reason that I am writing to you about this issue is because Mr. Williams’ article and comments appear on the Network World website. I do not know what relationship Network World has with CertGuard or Mr. Williams. By publishing Mr. Williams’ article and comments on the Network World website, they have gained a credibility and audience that he could not achieve on his own. My problem with this is that Mr. Williams has made what seem to me to be libelous statements about Mr. Banks. I also believe that his reaction to comments on the article have been very aggressive and unprofessional. [Again, to be fair, some of the comments were aggressive and unprofessional as well]. I am disappointed that an institution as highly regarded as Network World is hosting these accusations. I know that bloggers (if that is what Mr. Williams’ role is with Network World) are often excused from following standards and practices of journalists. In this case though I think that Mr. Williams stepped over the line. He seems to have made no effort to contact Mr. Banks for clarification/comments and his statements are illogical and may be libelous. I do not know if Mr. Banks cheated on his CCIE written exam, but after reading Mr. Williams’ article and comments, it’s clear that Mr. Williams does not know this either. This has not, unfortunately, stopped him from accusing Mr. Banks of exactly that.
Today I discovered that Mr. Banks had removed taken his site down “for personal reasons.” I do not know if this is due to Mr. Williams’ article, but the timing is suspect. Please review Mr. Williams’ article and postings and verify that they are accurate and/or that they meet the standards of Network World.
Thank you for your time,
*I run a CCIE blog pseudonymously at www.cciepursuit.com. If you require my actual name I will provide that to you.