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standard (RFC) One of a series, begun in 1969, 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 of pragmatic, experience-driven,
after-the-fact standard writing done 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 527 ("ARPAWOCKY", R. Merryman, UCSD; 22 June
1973), 748 ("Telnet Randomly-Lose Option", Mark R. Crispin; 1
April 1978), and 1149 ("A Standard for the Transmission of IP
Datagrams on Avian Carriers", D. Waitzman, BBN STC; 1 April
1990). The first was a Lewis Carroll pastiche; the second a
parody of the TCP/IP documentation style, and the third a
deadpan skewering of standards-document legalese, describing
protocols for transmitting Internet data packets by carrier