So, more of my thoughts on Certificates.
To the unwashed, the latest expansion introduced Certificates which are essentially achievement markers based on skills you have trained. For example, if you have trained up to appropriate levels the skills required to use Medium Railguns effectively, you might be able to earn the Cruiser Hybrids Certificate. In addition, certificates have four levels: basic, standard, improved and elite. Obviously the difficulty in earning a certificate is directly related to its level.
I've got about 80 certificates mostly in the basic and standard category, a few in improved, and a handful of Elites. Here are three of my Elite certificates in the Core skills category showing I have excellent Capacitor, Integrity (i.e. hull and shields), and Navigation skills, and Improved in the fitting skills (I would need Advanced Weapon Upgrades V to bump that to Elite for example).
(As usual, click to see better)
And even though I can use Tech II Large Blasters and Rails, you can see my gunnery skills are only considered Standard since a lot of support skills I've only trained to IV instead of V. Needless to say I was a little disappointed my vaunted gunnery skills weren't certified Elite or even Improved.
(Click for the gory details at 100%)
A lot of veterans scoffed at certificates as a waste of time. They provide no change in how ships or modules operate, they cost nothing to get, and prove nothing in the process. As usual these veterans missed the point.
There are a lot of skills, well over 200 or 300. To a neophyte player, it is more than daunting trying to figure out what to train to be good at something since the skills are divided into categories based on their function. There is no category called Gallente Frigate Command filled with skills that you should train to be good at flying Gallente frigates for example. Instead you need skills from Drones, Gunnery, Engineering, Spaceship Command, and probably Electronics and Navigation. And while its easier for veteran pliots to figure out what they need to train for the next shiny new ship class, it still takes time and research.
Certificates provide a method for pilots to quickly asses the skills they need for certain roles. Want to know what skills are recommended for flying Amarr combat cruisers? Check out the related certificate in the certificate planner:
(click for engorgement)
You quickly see that the basic requirements are laid out in a straight forward manner.
Furthermore, pilots can make certification public so that other pilots can check your information and see what you are specced for quickly without having to scan 150+ skills and filter out the signal rom the noise.
To summarize I think Certificates are a good idea. Something was needed ingame to help new players move forward with their skill training, provide an easy way for prospective recruiters to assess a pilot's compentency, and allow veteran players a quick method for self evaluation of their skills. While they may have little impact on actual gameplay, they are very useful for the metagame outside combat.