I frequently see RFCs being mentioned by number only, not mentioning what they are about. It's a quick google search to find what they are about, but the post might as well have mentioned the title. For example RFC 2616 is about HTTP/1.1, but who knows? Why should you know?

The title of the RFC is often mentioned in parenthesis behind the number, which is okay, but most of the time there isn't really any reason to mention the specific RFC. When there is, it's obviously fine to mention it, but otherwise who cares?

It's a bit of a pain to have to go and edit every post doing this, but we could at least encourage users to use titles instead of numbers. A link to the RFC is quite the minimum I think. We might actually automate that and parse links out of /RFC ?[0-9]{1,6}/i.

  • 1
    I dont think we need to automate it, we just need to stop referring to the RFC number (except where it really is relevant). Like you said, it's about as useful as referring to google as
    – AviD Mod
    Oct 29, 2012 at 13:33
  • Yeah - this would be good behaviour. Probably not worth popping in the faq, but worth pointing people at this post.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Oct 29, 2012 at 13:49

2 Answers 2


I agree it is helpful to include the title of the RFC as well as the RFC number, where possible.

Failing that, it would help to include a link to the RFC. For example, instead of writing "see RFC 3514", write "see RFC 3514". I like https://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfcNNNN as the link target for these links (replace NNNN with the RFC number).

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    Agreed. RFC numbers are not descriptive. Even if they are to the writer, a lot of other people won't have a clue what that RFC number refers to, and some may not even know what an RFC is. I think it's best to avoid RFCs for general reference; it's much better to link to a more concise source like Wikipedia. RFCs should be reserved for cases where reference to a standard is needed.
    – Polynomial
    Nov 4, 2012 at 11:35

In the SMTP/Sendmail community it is common to say RFC 821, or 2821 when talking about the envelope of a message, and 822, 2822 when referring to the envelope.

Other then that example, I haven't encountered other RFC numbers on a frequent enough basis, and am quite happy that people say TCP instead of "RFC 793".

  • I usually hear them as "RFC 1918 addresses".
    – Scott Pack
    Oct 30, 2012 at 16:41
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    New to me. I want to ask on Server Fault "What RFC's are commonly referenced by number in professional environments".. Think that would be On/Off topic? ... or "what RFC numbers should I memorize" ..etc. Oct 30, 2012 at 16:44
  • That seems like a list or polling, so probably more NC than off-topic. Depending on the current CW rulings, maybe? It could certainly be useful!
    – Scott Pack
    Oct 30, 2012 at 21:49
  • @ScottPack Linkage meta.serverfault.com/q/3820/51457 Oct 30, 2012 at 23:05
  • Some not unreasonable discussion their either. I always feel a little better about making a call when someone like Zoredache agrees with me. :)
    – Scott Pack
    Oct 31, 2012 at 12:41
  • @makerofthings7 it all depends on community, because I work with cryptographic signatures I remember that RFC 3161 is about Cryptographic Time Stamps. There's no rule of thumb. The only RFC that's really universal is probably RFC 821 and that's probably only because it's so old. Nov 3, 2012 at 10:42
  • The only RFC I'd know by number is 2468.
    – TRiG
    Feb 1, 2013 at 22:44

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