Re: ISSN for RFC Series under Consideration

Marshall Eubanks <> Thu, 22 May 2008 15:01 UTC

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From: Marshall Eubanks <>
To: John C Klensin <>
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Subject: Re: ISSN for RFC Series under Consideration
Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 11:00:45 -0400
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On May 22, 2008, at 10:35 AM, John C Klensin wrote:

> --On Thursday, 22 May, 2008 10:15 -0400 Ed Juskevicius
> <> wrote:
>> Steve:
>>> Every so often someone suggests RFCs are not first class
>>> documents and hence not comparable to, say, "real"
>>> standards documents. Getting traditional identifiers attached
>>> to them might squelch some of this nonsense.
>> I have the impression that we would be pioneering the use of
>> an ISSN to identify a standards' series, if we choose to do
>> this.  The "real" standards from other organizations seem to
>> be identified with individual ISBNs.
> If all RFCs were standards, this would be a good argument.
> However, the RFC series contains Standards, various types of
> substandards for which those other bodies either have no
> equivalents or publish differently, experimental protocol
> specifications, BCP statements, and an assortment of
> informational documents.   What an ISSN identifies is the
> series, not the individual documents, and that series is _not_ a
> "standards series".
> My impression is that this type of application is not
> particularly novel.   More on that next week.
> As I indicated in my note to Melissa, having an ISSN for the
> series would not prevent obtaining ISBNs and/or DOIs for
> selected individual documents, so those ideas are really
> completely separate questions.
>> Would the purveyors of nonsense be squelched by an ISSN, or
>> emboldened? Some might cite our decision as yet another
>> example of the IETF doing something different and
>> 'non-standard'.
> Very unlikely.  At worst, we would be "accused" of illustrating
> ways in which an existing standard mechanism can be carried
> forward in interesting ways into the modern Internet age.   On
> the other hand, if we treat RFCs as basically paper (and
> page-format) publications that are freely available online as I
> suggested in an earlier note, this becomes that most routine of
> applications.

Here is a concrete suggestion.

We (for some definition of we) have the Internet Journal, which is  
Publish a "Supplement of the Internet Journal," in paper, or on line,  
which is

- physically published 3 times a year
- has all of the RFC's published since then
- includes the level 1 RFC errata as available
- includes other notes like RFC's that have been made obsolete, etc.
- charge it to cover costs at least (say, $ 500 / year for a  

This would be picked up by at least some libraries, and would solve  
the "on-line is ephemera" problem.


>> Marshall, to your point:
>>> It is easy to find RFC's now, but it may not be in a century.
>>> This may seem silly, but I think that RFCs will still
>>> have relevance in a century and, having experience
>>> searching for 100+ year old astronomical publications
>>> and data, in my opinion, RFC's need to be cataloged in
>>> libraries.
>>> Libraries have running code for the maintenance of
>>> intellectual property over centuries; the IETF does not.
>> I agree with you 100%.  I think this is indeed a tangible and
>> desirable objective.
> Indeed.  And libraries, especially the subset of libraries that
> have national archival responsibilities, do pay attention to
> these identifiers.
>      john

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