For example preventing it from sending arp, stp, etc and to reveal as little as possible about the rest of the network.
Example use case would be connecting to a peering exchange.
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You can check the Amsterdam Internet Exchange's Config Guide for hints on how to silence switches from a variety of vendors.
In my experience there are vendors whose software is so bad that their equipment is never silent, for example they ARP out every interface when they boot, or send out some upon a link up event on a port. Juniper, Cisco, Brocade can be muffled with varying degrees of persuasion, Extreme loops everything during EAPS transitions.
Some things to disable/consider:
You can search cisco-nsp@ for different propositions as to what to enable/disable on the ports. For example start here:
Depending on your particular Cisco switch - Catalyst or Nexus, you may also search cisco.com for specific design practices. For example, for Catalyst 6500:
also worth ensuring you nail down .1q/tagging negotiation http://www.curtis-lamasters.com/cisco-switching-switchport-nonegotiate/