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1. MUST This word, or the terms "REQUIRED" or "SHALL", mean that the
definition is an absolute requirement of the specification.
2. MUST NOT This phrase, or the phrase "SHALL NOT", mean that the
definition is an absolute prohibition of the specification.
3. SHOULD This word, or the adjective "RECOMMENDED", mean that there
may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances to ignore a particular item, but the full implications must be understood and carefully weighed before choosing a different course.
4. SHOULD NOT This phrase, or the phrase "NOT RECOMMENDED" mean that
there may exist valid reasons in particular circumstances when the particular behavior is acceptable or even useful, but the full implications should be understood and the case carefully weighed before implementing any behavior described with this label.
5. MAY This word, or the adjective "OPTIONAL", mean that an item is
truly optional. One vendor may choose to include the item because a particular marketplace requires it or because the vendor feels that it enhances the product while another vendor may omit the same item. An implementation which does not include a particular option MUST be prepared to interoperate with another implementation which does include the option, though perhaps with reduced functionality. In the same vein an implementation which does include a particular option MUST be prepared to interoperate with another implementation which does not include the option (except, of course, for the feature the option provides.)
6. Guidance in the use of these Imperatives
Imperatives of the type defined in this memo must be used with care and sparingly. In particular, they MUST only be used where it is actually required for interoperation or to limit behavior which has potential for causing harm (e.g., limiting retransmisssions) For example, they must not be used to try to impose a particular method on implementors where the method is not required for interoperability.