All About Email Standards
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One might easily believe that an RFC either documents or does not document an Internet standard, but it isn’t quite that simple. First, a handful of fundamental standards such as STD-1 actually describe the rest of the Internet standards.Other standards in this category include the Assigned Numbers document, which lists all values that have special meaning to Internet standards, and the host and router requirements specifications.
Standards themselves have two special characteristics: state and status. A standard’s state refers to its maturity level: It might be a proposed standard, a draft standard, or an actual standard. The standard’s status refers to its requirements level: Is the protocol required, recommended, or elective? The term “Internet standard” refers specifically to a protocol that is either already accepted as a full Internet standard or that is on the Internet standard track. To discover what protocols and what RFCs are standards or on the standards track, you consult STD-1.
The most recent version of STD-1—RFC 2500—lists not only all the current standards, but also the RFCs documenting draft standard and proposed standard protocols as well as informational and historic protocols. STD-1 contains lists of current STDs along with the RFCs linked to each STD. STD-1 also lists all Internet protocols by their maturity level, as described below. This document is the key to all the Internet standards: If you want to know which protocols are standards and where those standards are documented, you simply locate the current document referenced by STD-1. All other STDs are listed here. STD-2 is the Assigned Numbers document, most recently published as RFC1700. STD-2 includes the most important numbers to the Internet.
For example, this document lists the values of well-known ports, reserved multicast addresses, or virtually any values related to TCP/IP protocols. However, RFC 1700 was published in 1994 and is seriously out of date. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) has been publishing these values online. This will probably change as the IANA is replaced by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).