[rfc-i] Errata process

Heather Flanagan (RFC Series Editor) rse at rfc-editor.org
Wed Feb 13 14:56:57 PST 2013

On 2/9/13 8:14 AM, SM wrote:
> Hello,
> The errata system was created so that an author does not have to repeat
> the same answers year in year out.  It is said that although every
> published RFC has been submitted to careful proof reading by the RFC
> Editor and the authors, errors do sometimes go undetected.  There was an
> RFC Editor proposal for handling errata
> (draft-rfc-editor-errata-process-02).  The expired draft mentioned that:
>   'We note that allowing technical errata is a slippery slope: there may
>    be a temptation to use errata to "fix" protocol design errors, rather
>    than publishing new RFCs that update the erroneous documents.'
> I read http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc5322.txt  That is supposed to be
> the authoritative version of RFC 5322.  I don't know whether the RFC
> Editor recommends that I should also read
> http://www.rfc-editor.org/errata_search.php?rfc=5322  I read it anyway
> as I did not want to miss any known errors.

The 'status' (Verified, Held for Document Update, or Rejected) that the
stream manager selects for a given erratum is meant to provide guidance
on this topic. For example, Verified errata "should be available to
implementors or people deploying the RFC".  I don't believe it is
explicitly stated anywhere that Verified errata are normative text that
MUST be read with an RFC, but my impression is that is the expectation.

That is a quote from the IESG statement on "IESG Processing of RFC
Errata for the IETF Stream"
(http://www.ietf.org/iesg/statement/errata-processing.html), which
provides more context on how the IETF stream handles RFC errata.  The
other streams do not have a similar statement, but they also have
significantly fewer errata (as is expected, given they have
significantly fewer RFCs).

> RFC 791 was published in September 1981.  The first "technical" erratum
> was reported in January 2007.
>  (i)   Is there careful proof reading by the RFC Editor and the authors?
>  (ii)  Is more attention being given to author instead of the readers?
> I don't know the answer to (i).  In my opinion the answer to (ii) is yes.

I am not actually sure what you are asking.  Are you asking of there is
careful proofreading of an RFC, or careful proofreading of an errata?
And what kind of attention?

> How far down the slippery slope has the errata process taken me?  I
> don't know.  Has any thought been given to how the errata process
> impacts on the RFC Series or is this another one of the repetitive tasks?

The errata system is actually something that comes up in my mind quite a
bit.  The urge to use the errata system as a quantifiable measure of
something (quality? level of interest? amount of time that submitters
have in any given day to submit errata?) is huge.  As much as I would
like some kind of quantifiable measure of quality, however, the errata
system was not intended nor designed for that purpose and is not
representative of the RFCs being published.  It is a very useful system,
particularly for implementors who need to avoid buggy systems and for
-bis authors who could use the pointers on areas that need focus, but it
is not really useful for other measure.

And that said, I am not sure if this touches on what are you asking
about or not.


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