Network Working Group
Request for Comments: 425
NIC #13010
Bob Bressler (BBN)
Dec 1972

"But my NCP costs $500 a day..."

Now that networking is becoming commonplace, people are beginning to measure 
the cost of their network software and network use.  A not insignificant 
portion of this use turns out to be random prodding and poking of one system
by another.  An example of this is the "Survey" mechanism that many sites are
constructing to see "who's up."  Several systems have noted that this one
mechanism alone accounts for a log of their overhead, and is not chargeable to
any given user.

In response to this particular problem, MIT-DMCG and UCLA-NMC, who have both been doing surveys for some time, have agreed upon a standard format for host survey data and will make it available to the network community. They will be joined by a third site, and will provide a standard socket to obtain this information. The data will be a concise character stream so as to be both human and machine readable.

The exact format of the data and the socket number will be forthcoming.

The intent of all this is for all other sites to stop surveying on their own and get this data from one of the participating "Official Surveyors" either prompted by a user's request or on a periodic basis, whatever they wish.

This should, itself, help considerably to eliminate a lot of the network
'noise factor.'  But, in addition, we should all try to be more aware of the
cost of this type of traffic and try to avoid repeated interactions with a
given Host without some expressed consent - be it an account number of some
specific experiment.