Birds of a Feather

In computing, Birds of a Feather is usually referred to an informal group discussion. It also presents a forum for the discussion of audiences. It also intends developers’ professional networking and grass-roots participation. It is also non-commercial in a sense that it focuses on building a community via highly-interactive discussion of a lot of topics.

As compared to working groups or special interest groups, BoFs are usually formed following an ad hoc manner. This acronym is usually used by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to refer to the initial meetings wherein members are interested in a specific issue.

In such a BoF session, which is an informal form of meeting at conferences, attendees are grouped together according to their mutual interest. They also start the meeting or carry out the discussion even without the presence of a pre-planned agenda.


Dating back in its history or its origination, the term was once used by computer specialists. This was later on believed to be employed during a conference in DECUS. This may also have been utilized at SHARE user group-based meetings in the year of 1960.

The term was also historically derived from the proverb “Birds of a feather flock together”. As per the idiomatic phrase “birds of a feather”, it actually signifies people who have the same backgrounds, characters, beliefs or interests. In the old poetic English, it just means to say birds with the same kind of feathers. Thus, the proverb may refer to the birds that gather together with birds of the same species.


BoF is usually applied to help facilitate partnership and networking formation among several subgroups. These subgroups could include functionally-oriented based groups like geographically oriented groups and CEOs. This also applies a good and consistent interaction between audiences than just the panel discussions often seen in conventions. In regard with the discussions, these are not really unguided but there is still the presence of a discussion leader.

The application of BoF in a session seeks to maximize the value of the time at a conference. When one also seeks to demonstrate a new service or a new product, it can be made possible via this group discussion. The session can also be used to give company an opportunity to talk about proprietary technology and products. Even the promotional benefits may also be clearly highlighted.

The BOF can also be an open form of discussion on various document types and the ways to consider ensuring that one has or is able to provide the forms and types of documentation that address the needs of an administrator.

In regard with the Bof Rooms, these will be fully equipped with the standardized A/V equipment like microphones, projectors and portable microphones intended for audience participation and brief presentations.

— Slimane Zouggari