Re: ISSN for RFC Series under Consideration

John C Klensin <> Thu, 22 May 2008 09:52 UTC

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Date: Thu, 22 May 2008 05:52:03 -0400
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Bill Manning <bmanning@ISI.EDU>
Subject: Re: ISSN for RFC Series under Consideration
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--On Thursday, 22 May, 2008 02:38 -0700 Bill Manning
<bmanning@ISI.EDU> wrote:

>> Two additional observations:
>> (1) While we think of RFCs as online documents, their
>> antecedents, and all of the early ones, were paper
>> publications.
> [elided]
>> I suggest that the community would be better served, and the
>> ISSN made more useful, if we treated RFCs as "authoritative
>> paper, copies available online" rather than "online
>> documents".   If that requires the RFC Editor or IASA to
>> print out all of the RFCs published in a given month, throw
>> them into an envelope, and put the envelope into the smail, I
>> imagine we can afford that.
> 	there is historical precident for this.

Yes, I know -- both about the paper and the "toss into an
envelope" bit.  Even the idea of a standard page-image format is
a lot more recent than many people realize.

> 	my question earlier, regarding the whole series,
> 	includes early, paper-only RFC's, historic, etc.
> 	so the folks thinking that a simple change in the 
> 	current tools set will make it all good might have
> 	overlooked dealing w/ legacy documents.

The ISSN rules quite explicitly do not require that we go back
and reissue entries in the serious prior to the assignment of a
number.   So, unless we make explicit (and slightly complicated)
provisions to the contrary, assignment of an ISSN sweeps in all
RFCs back to #0001 but the identifier only needs to be included
in RFCs issued after the assignment date (or some other
convenient date that the RFC Editor picks).

> 	there are also books already published that are RFC
> 	compilations.  they already have ISSN numbers.

No, they have ISBN numbers.  And, although it is not a big deal,
this is yet another reason why an ISSN is a better idea.
Whether they are issued by the publisher or someone else,
assigning ISBNs to bound compilations of issues of a serial is
quite a routine event.  Another reason, of course, is that RFCs
really are a series -- that is more or less the whole point.


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