Guide for Internet Standards Writers
RFC 2360

Document Type RFC - Best Current Practice (June 1998; No errata)
Also known as BCP 22
Last updated 2013-03-02
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IESG IESG state RFC 2360 (Best Current Practice)
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Network Working Group                                  G. Scott, Editor
Request for Comments: 2360           Defense Information Systems Agency
BCP: 22                                                       June 1998
Category: Best Current Practice

                  Guide for Internet Standards Writers

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the
   Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (1998).  All Rights Reserved.

Abstract

   This document is a guide for Internet standard writers.  It defines
   those characteristics that make standards coherent, unambiguous, and
   easy to interpret.  In addition, it singles out usage believed to
   have led to unclear specifications, resulting in non-interoperable
   interpretations in the past.  These guidelines are to be used with
   RFC 2223, "Instructions to RFC Authors".

Table of Contents

   1     Introduction   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
   2     General Guidelines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
   2.1   Discussion of Security . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
   2.2   Protocol Description   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
   2.3   Target Audience  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   2.4   Level of Detail  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
   2.5   Change Logs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.6   Protocol Versions  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.7   Decision History   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.8   Response to Out of Specification Behavior  . . . . . . . . . 6
   2.9   The Liberal/Conservative Rule  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
   2.10  Handling of Protocol Options   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
   2.11  Indicating Requirement Levels  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
   2.12  Notational Conventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
   2.13  IANA Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   2.14  Network Management Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   2.15  Scalability Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  10
   2.16  Network Stability  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   2.17  Internationalization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11

Scott                    Best Current Practice                  [Page 1]
RFC 2360          Guide for Internet Standards Writers         June 1998

   2.18  Glossary   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  11
   3     Specific Guidelines  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   3.1   Packet Diagrams  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  12
   3.2   Summary Tables   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   3.3   State Machine Descriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13
   4     Document Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  15
   5     Security Considerations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   6     References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  16
   7     Acknowledgments  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   8     Editor's Address . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18
   9     Appendix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19
   10    Full Copyright Statement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20

1  Introduction

   This document is a guide for Internet standard writers.  It offers
   guidelines on how to write a standards-track document with clarity,
   precision, and completeness.  These guidelines are based on both
   prior successful and unsuccessful IETF specification experiences.
   These guidelines are to be used with RFC 2223, "Instructions to RFC
   Authors", or its update.  Note that some guidelines may not apply in
   certain situations.

   The goal is to increase the possibility that multiple implementations
   of a protocol will interoperate.  Writing specifications to these
   guidelines will not guarantee interoperability.  However, a
   recognized barrier to the creation of interoperable protocol
   implementations is unclear specifications.

   Many will benefit from having well-written protocol specifications.
   Implementers will have a better chance to conform to the protocol
   specification.  Protocol testers can use the specification to derive
   unambiguous testable statements.  Purchasers and users of the
   protocol will have a better understanding of its capabilities.

   For further information on the process for standardizing protocols
   and procedures please refer to BCP 9/RFC 2026, "The Internet
   Standards Process -- Revision 3".  In addition, some considerations
   for protocol design are given in RFC 1958, "Architectural Principles
   of the Internet".

2  General Guidelines

   It is important that multiple readers and implementers of a standard
   have the same understanding of a document.  To this end, information
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