If RFCs Work For You, They Work Great: What Is Request For Comments

by Anna Khrupa on Apr 1, 2022

RFCs are commonly used in the software development world. However, an RFC is not the most obvious concept, therefore it can definitely use an explanation. In this article, we want to highlight the key points about RFCs and why we use them at all.

After you develop a software solution, you attach a document to it that will play the most important role in the organization where you’re working. The RFCs (request for comment) is an authoritative document developed by the IETF, which documents describes the specification of a particular technology. Once approved, it is then converted into an official document in accordance to all relevant standards.

The request for comment was first used by developers when they wrote the ARPANET protocols. Then, as most people working in the software development industry know, these protocols turned out to be what we call the internet today. And it makes perfect sense that they evolve and are re-released at the same rate as technology evolves today. 

The history of requests for comments

Thanks to Croker’s RFC technologies, it was possible to create a directed process for exchanging ideas and proposals. The information in one internet document gave direction to the creation of other ideas, which were assigned to other, separate documents with open access to proposals. If someone’s idea or proposal found support and development, it was turned into a special document, and groups of scientists and researchers then worked on its creation and further software development.

At first, RFC documents were printed only on paper and sent by regular mail. Some time later, developers started using files and transferring them to the FTP. These days, these docs can be easily found on the internet. Here are the most common documents of the RFC group:

  • FYI (For Your Information) — documents containing useful information on internet basics;
  • STD (Standard Document) — a series of documents created in accordance with a actual standard;
  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) — also known as Q&As. FAQs were generated by engineers specially for forums, conferences, etc. They can be also categorized as questions that most people would ask.

Being quite useful, RFC technologies represented the first type of information to be accepted and spread on the web.

What Does Request For Comment Meaning In Software Development?

Now let’s answer an important question: what is the writing of RFC all about? It is more of a social practice as it relates to software engineering, while programming is an individual practice. Here is an example that will help you better understand this concept: you work in a group of people and you are a team player. Every line and piece of code is a collective decision that you made together, respecting different points of view and being able to make technical decisions on behalf of someone else. This kind of activity has the most direct impact on making better decisions. 

Let’s look at a simple algorithm, starting with an idea and ending with a result:

  • Code analysis is a method of getting feedback before decision-making.
  • When this process works as intended, then your co-workers give you feedback as well as perspective.
  • Thanks to the feedback, you are always mindful of the important elements.
  • All of the above allows you to move swiftly forward.

Of course, code reviews can sometimes not go as expected, so it’s important to remember that more feedback doesn’t always lead to better solutions. This is something to keep in mind in every analysis.

Further, the cost of incorporating feedback into technical decisions regularly increases. Making the choice to switch to X language when you are already using Y in the development takes more work than evaluating the trade-offs in a common collaborative document. So, technical propositions provide a means to prepare engineering implementations and may produce better solutions and better results.

If there is dysfunction, it is important to remember that RFCs are not a magic wand that can solve deep collaboration problems.

The effectiveness of RFC depends on how you use it. This tool will work correctly if you create what you like in every sense. So, this is especially true for the organization for which you develop it. Mutually beneficial collaboration with the team ensures everyone’s participation and visibility throughout the company. A request for comments example from an organization where hierarchy is valued more than the content of an RFC probably won’t work for you.


Request for comment consists of a step-by-step and evolving measure of progression, much like a novel. Managing this tool requires not just an in-depth process, but also permanent knowledge and a focus on the desired results. That way, you can change the RFC lifecycle and move toward success incrementally.

Should you write RFCs?

Random assignment of responsibilities to engineering positions, collaboration dysfunction, exposure to context, and a complete lack of understanding of the subject matter are just some of the reasons to write an RFC. To make this process simple, you can take the quiz below. If you agree with three or more statements, then you have your answer.

You really should write an RFC if:

  1. You feel the need to rewrite something.
  2. You are creating something from scratch.
  3. You understand this “something” affects more than one system, as well as other employees.
  4. You are adding or replacing languages or tools in the stack.
  5. You doubt whether you should write an RFC.

There is one case where you don’t need large documents to decide at all, and that’s if your development team and RFC development management are efficient. But when it’s not, you’ll need a comprehensive guide when you have to write a collaborative document before coding.


It’s okay if you haven’t yet found the right way to create cohesion awareness in your team. But perhaps you know a technique that works best for connecting people to the decision-making process itself. In this area, it’s very important to have a direct impact on the work that goes into making the decisions. That’s what RFC development management is aimed at, and that’s what we need.

If you are looking for the answer on how to plan a software development project, click here.



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