I am glad to hear another voice saying this, thank you for that. Maybe if enough people start discussing the issues something may change.
You bring up a good point about LinkedIn. Help doesn't have to be noble, it just has to be useful. I wouldn't mind at all if there was some incentive for people to be helpful on here. It would be sad if this turned into a pit of spam, but giving freelancers and extension writers the ability to put up a logo and link to a web page for their services would be a perfectly fine trade off if that meant people got better and faster help. I think being helpful and demonstrating their skills would be an outstanding way to promote their services and help the community at the same time.
The certification program also sounds like a solid idea that should be implemented as soon as possible. Every open source project that gets to a certain critical mass needs to start organizing and policing itself at some point. There needs to be someone maintaining order in what would otherwise be an unruly mob. I really don't think Joomla has taken that step yet.
One thing that has always bothered me is the chaotic way extensions fit in with the Joomla system. When I install an extension I always have to figure out how to configure it, how it will affect other extensions and the main system. Did the programmers overwrite some core component, making it a mess to do upgrades, etc... This is another area where new users can get extremely frustrated and go away from Joomla. A set of standards and certifications would be very handy in this area also.
I like the idea you have of pushing community support. If the Joomla community leaders would step up and start communicating what is needed I think they would get people behind them. It really wouldn't take much effort to change things.
As for my doom and gloom prediction for Joomla. I may or may not be right, but the overall trends are dismal. WordPress is going strong and even Drupal is seeing interest pick up. Joomla on the other hand is on a strong path down. Obviously this isn't the whole story, but the Google Trends analysis lately is interesting;http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=wordpress%2C%20joomla%2C%20drupal
The thing I worry about is the new site adoption rate dropping to a point where the main extension providers start giving up. Combine this with fewer people contributing to the coding and community efforts. The result would be a collapse of the Joomla ecosystem and a large migration to other platforms. WordPress is currently getting the money, community support and coding efforts due to their rising popularity and that is really hard to beat. My rough estimate is 3-5 years for this to happen unless something significant changes. Joomla would still exist at that point, but it would be a shell of what it is now.
I am not saying this because I want it to happen. I want Joomla to thrive and be successful, but I think it is what will happen unless something is changed. Joomla's popularity is now at the lowest level it has seen since Feb 2006 and they just released a new version. That should be a wake up call.
If anyone else has some ideas it would be great to hear them.