Not All RFCs are Standards (RFC1796)
Original Publication Date: 1995-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2019-Feb-12
Internet Society Requests For Comment (RFCs)
C. Huitema: AUTHOR [+2]
This document discusses the relationship of the Request for Comments (RFCs) notes to Internet Standards. This memo provides information for the Internet community. This memo does not specify an Internet standard of any kind.
Network Working Group C. Huitema Request for Comments: 1796 INRIA Category: Informational J. Postel ISI S. Crocker CyberCash April 1995
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 publications".
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
Huitema, Postel & Crocker [Page 1]
RFC 1796 Not All RFCs are Standards April 1995
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 series.
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 publicize the state of the standardization process.
More precisely, we propose to add to the current RFC repository an "html" version of the "STD-1" document, i.e., the list of Internet standards. We are considering the extension of this document to also describes actions in progress, i.e., standards track work at the "proposed" or "draft" stage.
A Single Archive
The IAB believes that the community b...