1.4. Internet Standards Process

This document makes reference to a significant number of "RFC"s, or Request(s) for Comments. These RFCs form part of a set of technical documents and organisational notes that describe the structure of the Internet. RFCs are published by the Internet Engineering Task Force, and are written by various Internet standards bodies, and the Internet community as a whole.

The criteria for the publication of RFCs is fairly straightforward. All RFCs begin their life as an Internet draft. These Internet drafts are works in progress and have a life-cycle of six months, after which time they are either removed, revised, or become an RFC. Internet drafts are available for informal review and comment. Internet drafts may only become RFCs if they are judged to be sufficiently mature and of interest to the Internet community.

An RFC may be published either as a "standards track" document, or an "Informational" or "Experimental" document. Standards track RFCs document the workings of the Internet, and the various protocols which make it up. Experimental and Informational RFCs do not describe standards, but rather contain information that may be of interest or use to the Internet community. These non-standards RFCs often indicate the best current practices in relation to a specific area of the Internet. These best current practices (BCP) form a separate document series.

All standards track RFCs are subject to a strict process of review before they are adopted as Internet standards. Every standards track RFC has a status associated with it which indicates its maturity and place within the standards track. A standards track RFC starts out as a "Proposed Standard", after which it becomes a "Draft Standard" before being confirmed as an "Internet Standard".

Internet Standards are specifications for which a significant amount of review, implementation, and operational experience has been gained. They have a significant amount of technical maturity and are generally of interest to the Internet community as a whole.

All RFCs are identified by a unique number, starting at one and incrementing sequentially as documents are published. This number is assigned to a specific version of the specification and after an RFC has been assigned a number it may not be edited. Subsequent revisions start out as Internet drafts, and are assigned a separate RFC number when they are ratified.

A repository of RFCs is maintained by the RFC editor and this collection is mirrored on servers world-wide.

The Internet standards process is described by [BCP 9].