Request For Comments


(RFC) One of a series of numbered Internet informational documents and standards, widely followed by commercial software and freeware in the Internet and Unix communities. Few RFCs are standards but all Internet standards are recorded in RFCs. Perhaps the single most influential RFC has been RFC 822, the Internet electronic mail format standard.

The RFCs are unusual in that they are floated by technical experts acting on their own initiative and reviewed by the Internet at large, rather than formally promulgated through an institution such as ANSI. For this reason, they remain known as RFCs even once adopted as standards.

The RFC tradition, begun in 1969, of pragmatic, experience-driven, after-the-fact standard writing by individuals or small working groups has important advantages over the more formal, committee-driven process typical of ANSI or ISO.

Emblematic of some of these advantages is the existence of a flourishing tradition of "joke" RFCs; usually at least one a year is published, usually on April 1st. Well-known joke RFCs have included RFC 527, RFC 748 and RFC 1149.

The RFCs are most remarkable for how well they work - they manage to have neither the ambiguities that are usually rife in informal specifications, nor the committee-perpetrated misfeatures that often haunt formal standards, and they define a network that has grown to truly worldwide proportions. W3.

See also For Your Information, STD.

Last updated: 1997-11-10

Nearby terms:

Representation Language LanguageRequest For CommentsRequest For Proposal

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