Talk:Federal Information Processing Standards

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Discussion moved from Talk: List of places and things named Paris[edit]

maveric149: I clicked on the FIPS link before I asked about it in my summary of changes to List of places and things named Paris, and this is what I found, which tells me precisely nothing as to what these numbers are doing next to the names of these towns:

Federal Information Processing Standards or FIPS are standards promulgated by the U.S. Federal government for use by all (non-military) U.S. government agencies and U.S. government contractors, for information technology. Most FIPS standards are modified versions of standards used in the wider community (ANSI, IEEE, ISO etc.) There are also some FIPS standards originally developed by the U.S. government, mostly standards for encoding data (e.g. country codes), but also DES encryption.

Perhaps the numbers are DES encryptions of the names of the towns. I don't see anything else in the FIPS article that might be applicable. Unless they are those "wider communities" mentioned. (That's a joke, in case anyone is humor impaired.) Ortolan88

Perhaps I am just too accustomed to reading between the lines: FIPS deal with standards, the items you talk about are expressed in numbers. Therefore these numbers are standardized for each of the places and are unique to that place. FIPS numbers are very useful in info technology such as geographic information systems where you need a fast, consistant way of "naming" cities (since spellings vary and field sizes oftentimes truncate long names -- the real name is usually in there too, but computers can't distinguish between variations). Having a FIPS number is very convenient when you have two electronic spreadsheets with different info and you want to merge them into a single larger spreadsheet. If a a unique FIPS code is next to each city name you simply use the FIPS field (the column with the FIPS numbers in it) in each spreadsheet as the key field. Then you can merge the two spreadsheets based on this field and be sure "St Helena" of spreadsheet 1 lines up with "SAINT HELENA" of spreadsheet 2. The main reason they are there, is because I didn't delete the US Census info I obtained from This info is useful and it should stay. --maveric149

I said nothing about removing them. I asked a reasonable question, what are they doing there? What would the fifth grader in Paris, Texas, curious about Paris, Illinois, make of them when they read the article about places named Paris? Encyclopedia readers should not be asked to read between the lines. There isn't anything in the article about places named Paris or the article about FIPS to tell them that in some future time some computer program might need them for a spreadsheet, they are simply unidentified numbers. The name of the town, the name of the state, the latitude, the longitude, differences in population and area, are clear in purpose, but not these numbers.

The way to fix this is to add to the FIPS article something like,

"In this encyclopedia, US geographical locations are all supplied with FIPS numbers for complete certainty of identification. These numbers are used in many data bases for . . . Other FIPS identifiers you may find in this encyclopedia are . . . Many statistical and analytical tools rely on these accurate and clear identifications, such as . . ."


not all US geographical locations have a FIPS number. For example, neither populated place called Boot Hill (in AL and MD, per USGS site) has a FIPS number, yet some of these places may be historically interesting. FIPS country codes present an entirely different problem. Perhaps they should be listed in a table form beside the ISO country codes so as to show just how FIPS deviates from the standard. Eclecticology, Wednesday, July 10, 2002
Perhaps. I'll take that into consideration (I hadn't planned on contributing much to those types of articles). maveric149

The FIPS article already states "standards for encoding data (e.g. country codes)," -- which is enough for me (even back in the 3rd grade, but then I wasn't your average third grader). If you like, add more based on what I told you here. --maveric149, Wednesday, July 10, 2002

I am the one who is ignorant about FIPS, but after many years of writing for the general public I'm pretty knowledgeable about what readers need and expect. You are the one who is knowledgeable about FIPS. Instead of scoring points on me (I was smart in the third grade too), why don't you take five minutes and fix the FIPS article?

Wikipedia isn't a dictionary, but the FIPS article is a dictionary entry, entirely lacking in context for the uninformed reader. I have (politely, I might note) given some hints about what is needed. Meanwhile, I'll go back to fixing articles about music and literature, language, and other more random, less structured fields, which is where my specialized knowledge is more valuable. I will, however, continue to point out general weaknesses, such as these, even in fields where I am not qualified. Yours in the spirit of wiki, Ortolan88

Fair enough -- I'll make a stab at improving that entry. Trouble probably is, that I have been in the life and info sciences so long that the current FIPS article makes sense to me right away. I will add some more explanation, examples and statements on why FIPS is important and is bein used. That should clear things up. Power to the wiki! --maveric149, Wednesday, July 10, 2002

NIST develops the FIPS standards?[edit]

If NIST is developing all the FIPS standards, then I think it should be specified. If not, then it should be mentioned who are the notable sources that develop the FIPS standards. I can only imagine that, the government doesn't develop the standards itself, as it is stated now: "FIPS are publicly announced standards developed by the United States Federal government", but in fact it asks some agencies to do that. Ark25 (talk) 23:01, 29 May 2009 (UTC)


I am a reader without any knowledge of FIPS, my reason to read the article was that my WiFi-adapter (in Windows 7) allowed to "Enable FIPS compliance for this network". The enabling of this feature caused the wireless connection to be dropped. I was naturally curious about what FIPS was all about, but like some others I am hard pressed to understand what the objective of FIPS really is. Especially when it comes to WiFi. I have decided that FIPS could be used to broadcast some geographical codes on WiFi, but I must admit it seems pretty unlikely. If someone could address 1) The overall objective of FIPS and 2) WiFi and FIPS, then it would be a great improvement of the article for my part. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:13, 20 September 2012 (UTC)

FIPS is the government spying method to gather your IP address and to continue to monitor YOU!~ WAKE UP AMERICA AND THE WORLD THE GOVERNMENT IS WATCHING YOU!!! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:04, 5 July 2013‎ (UTC)

We need a list of expired FIPS code. Even the List Of FIPS Codes wiki page does not list many of the expired codes. People need these codes for processing old data. (talk) 14:29, 30 January 2015 (UTC)


Please do not remove content without checking the references. If you want stronger references - add them, do not just delete our work based entirely on your own opinions/biases. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:05, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

I suggest to try to assume good faith and not immediately suggest that people are working based just on opinions and biases. I have restructured the article somewhat. The primary issue that I noticed is that the article seemed to say that the purpose of the entire FIPS program is primarily to put in force the standards on one specific topic (i.e., key escrow). I believe that is an incorrect assertion that is not supported by the sources. —BarrelProof (talk) 14:53, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Is Fips still relevant?[edit]

I know a lot of people have chimed in here about the need for Fips and "what it is". I have read through it and I basically understand it, but I also read that as of 2008, FIPS is being discontinued in favor of ISO 3166. Just another number, I know. However, the key point that I am approaching is that when you check the references to the FIPS codes for cities, (Abbeville, South Carolina) it takes you to American FactFinder , and evene when you search through the census data for the locality, nowhere does it state anything about FIPS codes. Maybe it is just me, or maybe we need a better source to point to, but at this point, it seems to me that FIPS is no longer neccesary in US city/town articles. Note !!!! I am not planning on deleting anything, just improving articles to include relevant information and in particular references that point to the proper source. Thanks speednat (talk) 21:32, 10 May 2015 (UTC)