RFC's are the agreed upon standards by which the "community" is defined. Think of it as the charter for your local government. Protocols (languages) are agreed upon. Responsibilities are defined.
One shortcomiing is that there is no requirement to comply. This allows organizations and individuals to do horrible, aggressive and/or stupid things via the Internet without reprisal. Examples: long distance Outlook-Exchange connections, MS's perversion of the Kerberos protocol, long distance NetBIOS, long distance Telnet/FTP/POP3/IMAP, just about any proprietary encryption scheme, and 90% of the e-mail domains.
For the Internet-based violations, here's a site called "RFC Ignorant", which tracks the stubbornly ignorant.