It seems that a BIP (Bitcoin Improvement Proposal) is very similar to an RFC (Request for Comments). Can anybody confirm this, or describe major differences in the two approaches?

up vote 4 down vote accepted

BIP's and RFC's are similar in that they

  • debate an implementation in the community in order to improve it, and
  • produce documentation that's useful to other coders.

However, they're different in a lot of other ways. This is largely because the two solve different problems: RFC's usually invent new protocols, whereas BIP's amend an existing system.

Other differences:

  • An RFC with a specific serial number always refers to a specific version of that document. If the RFC changes (and the change isn't something tiny, like spelling), it is assigned a new number.

    On the other hand, a BIP is expected to go through multiple major revisions in the Draft stage. Changes are instead tracked through version control.

  • The RFC approval process and the BIP approval process are different.
  • RFC's have authors, BIP's have champions. This isn't just a difference in terminology. The champion of a BIP needs to convince other people that it's a good idea before it will be accepted, whereas the RFC process is much less restrictive.

See also:

  • This is very useful - thank you, Nick. – darren Dec 13 '14 at 8:29

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