We have a brand new community web site, so let us start by taking the bull by the horns !
There has been a lot of recent discussion on NetPro and other places about braindump and cheat sites. The consensus is that they devalue the certification programs, and they should be stamped out. I fully agree But despite everyone agreeing that they are "a Bad Thing", they continue to exist.
The word on the street is that Cisco have started taking a tough line on cheating. If so, it is about time! However, it seems that they are going after the people that use the sites rather than the sites themselves. The candidates are softer targets; sites are notoriously difficult to close down. So they will continue to exist.
There must be a small minority of visitors to those sites who naïvely believe they are accessing bona fide training resources. One could ask ingenuously "How can you tell the difference between a genuine (independent) training resource and an illegal braindump site?" It may not always be obvious. If someone is found to have visited an illegal site, should we consider their motives, or should they be disqualified for being naïve? Are they just collateral damage? I think it would be unfair to expect the candidate to take responsability for validating a site, especially if he cannot possibly do so until after he has visited it!
I am interested to know where Cisco stands on this. IMHO, I think Cisco could do a lot more to guide their candidates down the right path. But it will take time, patience, and resources.
How about introducing a high-profile approvals scheme for sites that offer certification training? It would have to be high profile so that everyone knows about it, and it would have to be run by Cisco, for reasons of integrity. BUT, it should NOT be run as a revenue stream ... that would put it out of reach of individual bona fide bloggers (such as myself) who work on a non-commercial basis, and would cast doubt on the integrity of the scheme.
I think the preparation tools that Cisco offers should be made an order of magnitude better than the braindump sites. Judging by the questions that get posted on NetPro, my guess is that some of the braindump sites get the answers wrong a lot of the time. That's as may be. But if Cisco have any errors in their own training materials, then I think that is inexcusible. (So if you see any errors in Cisco training materials, you should complain. And Cisco should make channels available to handle those complaints.)
Finally, Cisco could make the braindump sites less relevant by drawing on a bigger database. For each question, there shoud be 9 others with the addresses changed. If the question database covered all the possibilities, then a braindump site would be useless. Braindumps are only useful because the exam has a limited number of questions. The 500 or so questions in the CiscoPress CCIE book are not enough. You can memorise them. We need 5000 or even 50000. (I'm not sayiong that the CCNA question database has only 500 questions. I'm just saying that however many there are, there should be 10 or 100 times as many.)
Controversial? I hope so. Please discuss, especially if you are from Cisco!