If you ask most practitioners where they got their rank from, they'll often reply with an organization that certified them. When you ask a BJJ student, they'll give you the name of their instructor. As much as I don't want to, I kind of like it. It's a mentality reminiscent of old school martial arts, where the only backing you needed was your instructor's signature. But what happens if no one's ever heard of your instructor? There have been certain instances where people have questioned my standing in the martial arts and once I mention who I earned my rank, title and licenses from (Kaiso Steven Hatfield), the questions generally stop. So I've been fortunate enough to have that recognition, but that's not the case for everyone.
Now, there are various BJJ organizations such as the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation which people recognize as legitimate governing bodies. But it seems the majority of BJJ schools are independent, using only their lineage as their source of legitimacy. When an art is relatively small, and everyone knows who the main instructors are, that's perfectly fine. Even now, someone can say they earned their rank directly from someone like Carlos Gracie Jr. and no one would bat an eye. But what if your instructor is Joe Smith from Po Dunk, Mississippi? Of course the natural answer is "well, let's roll and see where you stand." That works, for sure. But there has to be a better way. Believe me, the flood of organizations running around is not what I have in mind but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if the top BJJ instructors from the various branches came together to find some common ground and set a standard by which they can award rank collectively.