George DeMet, over at Palantir, has thrown down the gauntlet. He will be hosting a SXSW panel where different CMS compete on implementations of the same website design and specification. There will be three teams representing Drupal, Joomla! and WordPress. Each will have 100 hours to develop the site.
I love the idea of different products going head to head in this way. This is much better than watching canned demos, which are difficult to compare because so many differences stem from the design of the demo rather than the design of the underlying software. My CMS selection methodology relies heavily on comparing prototypes. Then there is the classic Java Pet Store competition between Java and .NET.
Of course, this competition will not legitimately crown the winner as the "best CMS" - it just shows a very good solution (software and implementation team) for building that particular specification. In fact, the deck seems to be stacked in Drupal's favor. First of all, Palantir is primarily a Drupal shop so it is unlikely that Goerge would write a specification that Drupal would struggle with. Second, the Drupal team is lead by a Palantir employee. Third, the judge Mark Boulton is working for Acquia on Drupal 7 usability (this may play against Drupal because Mark is probably very used to picking apart Drupal 6 by now). I am not saying that this competition is rigged, just that there are bound to be subconscious tendencies. Still, the panel sounds like it will be good fun for the contestants and for the audience. I wish I could be there to see it.