IANA Considerations for Three Letter Acronyms
RFC 5513

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Network Working Group                                          A. Farrel
Request for Comments: 5513                            Old Dog Consulting
Category: Informational                                     1 April 2009

             IANA Considerations for Three Letter Acronyms

Status of This Memo

   This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
   not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
   memo is unlimited.

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Abstract

   Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs) are commonly used to identify components
   of networks or protocols as designed or specified within the IETF.  A
   common concern is that one acronym may have multiple expansions.
   While this may not have been an issue in the past, network
   convergence means that protocols that did not previously operate
   together are now found in close proximity.  This results in
   contention for acronyms, and confusion in interpretation.  Such
   confusion has the potential to degrade the performance of the
   Internet as misunderstandings lead to misconfiguration or other
   operating errors.

Farrel                       Informational                      [Page 1]
RFC 5513                          TLAs                        April 2009

   Given the growing use of TLAs and the relatively small number
   available, this document specifies a Badly Construed Proposal (BCP)
   for the management of a registry of TLAs within the IETF, and the
   procedures for the allocation of new TLAs from the registry.

1.  Introduction

   A Three-Letter Acronym (TLA) is a popular form of abbreviation
   usually based on the initial letters of a three-word term.  A formal
   definition of a TLA is provided in Section 2.

   TLAs are particularly popular within the Internet community where
   they serve as abbreviations in the spoken and written word.  As their
   popularity has grown, the measure of the value of an RFC (q.v.) is
   not only its successful implementation, interoperability, and
   deployment, but also the number of TLAs included in the text.

   For example, the Transmission Control Protocol (itself a TLA - TCP)
   [RFC0793] is extremely successful.  The specification contains no
   fewer than 20 distinct TLAs (although it should be noted that some
   are simple abbreviations rather than proper acronyms).  On the other
   hand, the Internet Stream Protocol Version 2 [RFC1819] is ambiguously
   referred to using the TLA ST2, and also as STII which is clearly not
   a TLA.  Further, the STII specification contains only 12 distinct
   TLAs, and it should be no surprise that STII has been far less
   successful than TCP.

   A common concern amongst diligent protocol implementers is that one
   acronym may have multiple expansions.  While this may not have been
   an issue in the past, network convergence means that protocols that
   did not previously operate together are now found in close proximity.
   Not only does this result in contention for acronyms, and confusion
   in interpretation of specification, it also leads to many wasted
   hours trying to select appropriate and suitably-unique names for
   variables within source code implementations.  Such confusion has the
   potential to degrade the performance of the Internet as
   misunderstandings lead to coding errors, compilation failures,
   misconfiguration, and other operating errors.

   Furthermore, it should be noted that we are rapidly approaching World
   Acronym Depletion (WAD).  It has been estimated that, at the current
   rate of TLA allocation, we will run out by the end of September this
   year.  This timescale could be worsened if there is the expected
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