An Ethereum Request for Comment (ERC) is a formal proposal or standardisation document that outlines a specific improvement or extension for the Ethereum blockchain. ERCs allow the Ethereum community to discuss, design, and implement new features, functionalities, or protocols within the Ethereum ecosystem. These proposals are intended to be open and transparent, encouraging collaboration and feedback from developers, researchers, and the wider community.
ERCs can cover a wide range of topics such as token standards (ERC-20, ERC-721, ERC-1155), improvement proposals like the change in consensus mechanisms, gas optimisation, or enhanced security measures, protocol upgrades, like the Shanghai Upgrade that saw Ethereum’s consensus mechanism move from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS).
It also includes infrastructure like the standards for APIs, libraries, and tools like development tools that help create Ethereum-based applications. ERCs are typically drafted in a standardised format and include details such as the proposal’s title, author(s), rationale, motivation, specification, and so on.
Once an ERC is proposed, it goes through a process of community discussion, refinement, and review before it can be formally adopted and implemented as a standard. This ensures that the changes align with Ethereum’s design, principles and security. ERCs allow the community to collaborate and evolve the network while also improving the platform through decentralised decision-making.