Fifty Years of RFCs
draft-flanagan-fiftyyears-00

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Network Working Group                                   H. Flanagan, Ed.
Internet-Draft                                                RFC Editor
Updates: 2555, 5540 (if approved)                       October 20, 2018
Intended status: Informational
Expires: April 23, 2019

                          Fifty Years of RFCs
                      draft-flanagan-fiftyyears-00

Abstract

   This RFC marks the fiftieth anniversary for the RFC Series.  It
   includes both retrospective material from individuals involved at key
   inflection points, as well as a review of the current state of
   affairs.  It concludes with thoughts on possibilities for the next
   fifty years for the Series.

Status of This Memo

   This Internet-Draft is submitted in full conformance with the
   provisions of BCP 78 and BCP 79.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
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   This Internet-Draft will expire on April 23, 2019.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (c) 2018 IETF Trust and the persons identified as the
   document authors.  All rights reserved.

   This document is subject to BCP 78 and the IETF Trust's Legal
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   (https://trustee.ietf.org/license-info) in effect on the date of
   publication of this document.  Please review these documents
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   include Simplified BSD License text as described in Section 4.e of

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   the Trust Legal Provisions and are provided without warranty as
   described in the Simplified BSD License.

Table of Contents

   1.  Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   2
   2.  Perspectives  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3
     2.1.  The Origins of RFCs - by Stephen D. Crocker . . . . . . .   3
     2.2.  Formalizing the RFC Editor Model - Leslie Daigle  . . . .   8
     2.3.  The Continuation, or Creation, of a Stream - Nevil
           Brownlee  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
     2.4.  A View from Inside the RFC Editor - Sandy Ginoza  . . . .  13
   3.  The Next Fifty Years of   RFCs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     3.1.  Preservation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
     3.2.  Evolution of the RFC Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
     3.3.  Stream Structure  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  14
   4.  Conclusion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   5.  Informative References  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   Appendix A.  Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   Author's Address  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16

1.  Introduction

   The RFC Series began in April 1969 with the publication of "Host
   Software" by Steve Crocker.  Since then, over 8000 RFCs have been
   published, ranging from best practice information, experimental
   protocols, informational material, and, of course, standards.
   Material is accepted for publication through the IETF, the IAB, the
   IRTF, and the Independent Submissions stream, each with clear
   processes on how drafts are submitted and potentially approved for
   publication as an RFC.  Ultimately, the goal of the RFC Series is to
   provide a canonical source for the material published by the RFC
   Editor, and to support the preservation of that material in
   perpetuity.

   Since the very first RFC fifty years ago, the focus of the Series has
   been on that stable record and dissemination of ideas to the world.
   At times there have been conflicts over what is more important - a
   stable, archival record, or making the latest ideas available as soon
   as possible.  As the Internet has evolved, so to have the
   expectations of instant access, faster publication, and ubiquitous
   availability.  It seems that the need for a stable, archival record
   is often deprioritized against those more immediate needs.

   Change does come to the Series, albeit slowly.  First, we saw the
   distribution method change from postal mail to FTP and email.  From
   there, we saw increased guidance for authors on how to write an RFC.
   The editorial staff went from one person, Jon Postel, to a team of

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