In computer network engineering, an Internet Standard (STD) is a normative specification of a technology or methodology applicable to the Internet. Internet Standards are created and published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
An Internet Standard is a special Request for Comments (RFC) or set of RFCs. An RFC that is to become a Standard or part of a Standard begins as an Internet Draft, and is later (usually after several revisions) accepted and published by the RFC Editor as a RFC and labeled a Proposed Standard. Later, an RFC is labelled a Draft Standard, and finally a Standard. Collectively, these stages are known as the standards track, and are defined in RFC 2026. The label Historic (sic) is applied to deprecated standards-track documents or obsolete RFCs that were published before the standards track was established.
Only the IETF, represented by the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG), can approve standards-track RFCs. The definitive list of Internet Standards is maintained in Internet Standards document STD 1: Internet Official Protocol Standards.
Becoming a standard is a three step process within the IETF called Proposed Standards, Draft Standards and finally Internet Standards. If an RFC is part of a proposal that is on the standard track, then at the first stage, the standard is proposed and subsequently organizations decide whether to implement this Proposed Standard. After three separate implementations, more review and corrections are made to the RFC, and a Draft Standard is created. At the final stage, the RFC becomes a Standard.
A Proposed Standard (PS) is generally stable, has resolved known design choices, is believed to be well-understood, has received significant community review, and appears to enjoy enough community interest to be considered valuable. However, further experience might result in a change or even retraction of the specification before it advances. Usually, neither implementation nor operational experience is required.
A specification from which at least two independent and interoperable implementations from different code bases have been developed, and for which sufficient successful operational experience has been obtained, may be elevated to the Draft Standard (DS) level.
A Draft Standard is normally considered to be a final specification, and changes are likely to be made only to solve specific problems encountered. In most circumstances, it is reasonable for vendors to deploy implementations of Draft Standards into a disruption sensitive environment.
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