Re: [rfc-i] standards for references/URLs in RFCs ? (Was: Re: archiving outlinks in RFCs)

Brian Carpenter <> Wed, 26 April 2023 11:05 UTC

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From: Brian Carpenter <>
Date: Wed, 26 Apr 2023 23:05:06 +1200
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To: Jay Daley <>
Cc: Toerless Eckert <>, RFC Interest <>
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Subject: Re: [rfc-i] standards for references/URLs in RFCs ? (Was: Re: archiving outlinks in RFCs)
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The original comment Toerless referred to was about the suitability of a
github citation, not about the mechanics of it.

(via tiny screen & keyboard)
        Brian Carpenter

On Wed, 26 Apr 2023, 20:32 Jay Daley, <> wrote:

> Hi Toerless
> See for the
> specifics of referencing GitHub.
> Jay
> On 26 Apr 2023, at 07:54, Toerless Eckert <> wrote:
> Alexis,
> Thanks a lot for the initiative, but before having more opinion about it,
> i would
> like to reconfirm our current policies for new draft->RFC, and what type of
> references/URLs are permitted/required by our process (IETF and
> RFC-editor).
> For example, in one of my ongoing WG drafts, WG members made the comment
> that
> a reference to a github location would not be looked upon favorably by RFC
> editor.
> Aka: inappropriate reference because it is not stable.
> In that particular case, the github file was part of a presentation given
> at a
> WG meeting in the past, so our plan for this reference is to use the IETF
> proceeding URL
> for the presentation instead.
> [ Which should be considered to be an eternally stable URL, one would
> hope, unless we
>  do get IETF LLC? web admins that like in almost all commercial web pages
> of our industry
>  seem to be run by admins that like to drive users mad by randomnly
> deleting important
>  reference/history information or just changing URLs for spite or some new
> wb page tooling
>  that "did not allow us to keep existing URLs" (typical excuse i hear).
> /rant ]
> Aka: I am totally unclear what type of URLs are or are not seen as
> appropriate today by IETF process/RFC-Editor, and if someone could point
> me to any
> reference we have (RFC ? ?), that would be lovely.
> As another example, when defining terms, i sometimes thought it would be
> appropriate
> to point to wikipedia. But given how the understanding of terms is
> changing over time,
> wikipedia definitions might be the worst references to use. Just think of
> all the
> technical terms we where fond of using (e.g.: blacklist) and that are now
> shunned/deprecated
> by us (not even sure what the right word for the process is ;-) - as one
> example category
> for this problem. If at all, it seems to me that references to wikipedia
> could
> really only go to an archived version of a wikipedia page that was used by
> the authors
> when writing the draft/RFC.
> Cheers
>    Toerless
> On Tue, Apr 25, 2023 at 11:50:24AM -0700, Alexis Rossi wrote:
> Hi all,
> I wanted to let the community know about something I’ve been working on.
> As you might know, one of my previous jobs was running the Wayback Machine,
> so when I started working with with this collection of RFCs one of my first
> thoughts was, “I wonder how many broken links are in these RFCs from the
> past few decades?”
> In general, the average lifespan of a URL before the content changes or
> disappears is on the order of 100 days. Fortunately for us, the links used
> in RFC references seem to be much more stable than that. For instance, so
> far I’ve only found one broken link in an RFC from the past 6 months [1].
> Even though we favor these more stable URLs, some of them will eventually
> change or go 404 and having archival documents with link rot is something
> we can take steps to avoid in the future.
> The first thing I wanted to do was just make sure we were archiving these
> outlinks somewhere. This won’t fix a broken link in the RFC, but at least
> the resource can be saved elsewhere for someone curious enough to go look
> (and potentially we could fix links in some version of the RFC in future).
> The main services that are well qualified for this purpose are
> <> (run by the Internet Archive) and
> <> (run by Harvard Law School Library). I chose
> Archive-It, and when I approached them they offered us an account [2] with
> enough free data storage for our needs. Yay for non-profits supporting each
> other!
> So far I have used Archive-It to:
> Archive <>, <>,
> <>, and <> (minus
> datatracker and the mail archive)
> There are lots of references to these sites in RFCs, but I also wanted to
> preserve the contents for their own sake. I plan to revisit these sites
> once per year.
> I am avoiding datatracker (except for outlinks from RFCs) because of
> concern about the extra traffic causing problems for the team that
> maintains the site.
> I have not concentrated on archiving the mail archive yet, though I know
> some of it has been saved incidentally.
> Archive outlinks from RFCs
> About once per quarter I’ll grab the outlinks from newly published RFCs
> and get them crawled.
> I am also going backwards through the entire series - I’ve started with
> the most recent RFCs (links are more likely to still be live) and am
> working my way back in time.
> There may be more room for improvements here, for example including
> archived links in RFCs from the start w here appropriate, or potentially
> defining a way for links to be self-healing in published RFCs.
> Please let me know if you have ideas or feedback on this.
> Thanks,
> Alexis
> [1] RFC9311 published in September 2022, in Section 11 (Informative
> References) this link is 404:
> <
> <
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