Not All RFCs are Standards (RFC1796)
Original Publication Date: 1995-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2000-Sep-13
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
C. Huitema: AUTHOR [+3]
This document discusses the relationship of the Request for Comments (RFCs) notes to Internet Standards.
Network Working Group C. Huitema
Request for Comments: 1796 INRIA
Category: Informational J. Postel
Not All RFCs are Standards
Status of this Memo
This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo
does not specify an Internet standard of any kind. Distribution of
this memo is unlimited.
This document discusses the relationship of the Request for Comments
(RFCs) notes to Internet Standards.
Not All RFCs Are Standards
The "Request for Comments" (RFC) document series is the official
publication channel for Internet standards documents and other
publications of the IESG, IAB, and Internet community. From time to
time, and about every six months in the last few years, someone
questions the rationality of publishing both Internet standards and
informational documents as RFCs. The argument is generally that this
introduces some confusion between "real standards" and "mere
It is a regrettably well spread misconception that publication as an
RFC provides some level of recognition. It does not, or at least not
any more than the publication in a regular journal. In fact, each
RFC has a status, relative to its relation with the Internet
standardization process: Informational, Experimental, or Standards
Track (Proposed Standard, Draft Standard, Internet Standard), or
Historic. This status is reproduced on the first page of the RFC
itself, and is also documented in the periodic "Internet Official
Protocols Standards" RFC (STD 1). But this status is sometimes
omitted from quotes and references, which may feed the confusion.
There are two important sources of information on the status of the
Internet standards: they are summarized periodically in an RFC
entitled "Internet Official Protocol Standards" and they are
documented in the "STD" subseries. When a specification has been
adopted as an Internet Standard, it is given the additional label
"STD xxxx", but it keeps its RFC number and its place in the RFC
It is important to note that the relationship of STD numbers to RFC
numbers is not one to one. STD numbers identify protocols, RFC
numbers identify documents. Sometimes more than one document is used
to specify a Standard protocol.
In order to further increase the publicity of the standardization
status, the IAB proposes the following actions:
Use the STD number, rather than just the RFC numbers, in the cross
references between standard tracks documents,
Utilize the "web" hypertext technology to pu...