Parent issue: Reference handling
Size (time): Large/Ongoing
Problem Statement: Pointers to external references within RFCs often become stale with the URLs changing or the hosting site going offline. One possible “value-add” that the RFC Editor could provide is a regular review and possible update to the reference section of an RFC. Specifically, testing the existing links and attempting to find a current link of possible. If not possible, noting explicitly that the target is no longer available. In order to do this, the reference section would have to be considered metadata to the document and not part of the body of the text.
Pros: This could be useful to readers of RFCs in that it would help point them to the most current information possible to support the understanding of the text. It could be considered an improvement to the overall utility of the Series and add to the value already provided by the RFC Editor. It also keeps RFC Editor activities in line with a growing number of scientific, technical, and medical publishers that are currently offering this as a feature to their authors and readers.
Cons: This would be an ongoing expensive option in terms of time and resources to validate the review (presuming that much of the initial checking could be automated). Also, a long-standing characteristic of the RFC Series is that RFCs do not change once published. This shift of Reference as metadata could be seen as a serious impact or erosion of that principle.