Problems and Purpose
Request for Comments (RFCs) is a online tool consisting of the following steps: proposing a question, holding a public debate, collecting the general audience's thoughts, generating a report that will serve as a basis for further discussion or policy.
Whilst RFCs can be used in any variety of policy areas, they have been particularly popular in the area of technology policy. It has been adopted by internet-governance organizations like the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Society (ISOC), and regulation bodies like the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
Requests for Comments is a transparent way of hosting an online dialogue, where typically users/followers can comment directly on the topic as well as each other's comments. RFCs are open to the general public, usually regardless of nationality. RFCs are similar in practice to Twitter Chats.
Origins and Development
In 1969 Steve Crocker, a UCLA graduate student, was note-taker for a working group meeting that wanted to discuss which protocols the internet (ARPANET at the time) should use. In this meeting he pioneered the "Requests for Comments", the label for his notes, because he wanted to make sure "anyone could say anything and that nothing was official."
How it Works
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Roy Rosenzweig. Wizards, Bureaucrats, Warriors, and Hackers: Writing the History of the Internet, The American Historical Review, Vol. 103, No. 5. (Dec., 1998), p. 1544