Errare humanum est: What do RFC Errata say about Internet Standards?

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Proceedings of the IFIP Traffic Measurement and Analysis Conference, June .


Protocol standards, such as RFCs developed by the IETF, are crucial for the correct operation of the Internet, but many are published containing errors. The RFC Editor allows people to report errata, allowing anybody to flag such errors for subsequent correction. This represents an important part of the RFC publication process, and may reveal ways in which standards can be improved. This paper performs the first study of RFC errata reports. We characterize and perform a statistical analysis of the scale and nature of these errata and explore who submits them. Finally, we evaluate the impact, in terms of the number of errata filings, of three different strategies that are designed to improve the standards process. We find that specialist review teams and formal language checkers can reduce the volume of errata filed against standards documents.

Download: mcquistin2023errare.pdf