Birds of a feather (computing)

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In computing, BoF (birds of a feather) can refer to:

  • An informal discussion group. Unlike special interest groups or working groups, BoFs are informal and often formed in an ad hoc manner. The acronym is used by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to denote initial meetings of members interested in a particular issue.
  • A BoF session, an informal meeting at conferences, where the attendees group together based on a shared interest and carry out discussions without any pre-planned agenda.


The first use of this term among computer specialists is uncertain, but it was employed during DECUS conferences and may have been used at SHARE user group meetings in the 1960s.[1]

BoFs can facilitate networking and partnership formation among subgroups, including functionally oriented groups such as CEOs or geographically oriented groups.[2] BoFs generally allow for more audience interaction than the panel discussions typically seen at conventions; the discussions are not completely unguided, though, as there is still a discussion leader.[3]


The term is derived from the proverb "birds of a feather flock together". The (idiomatic) phrase "birds of a feather" meaning "people having similar characters, backgrounds, interests, or beliefs". In old poetic English, "birds of a feather" means birds which have the same kind of feathers, so the proverb refers to the fact that birds congregate with birds of their own species.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Macz, Mad (2002). Internet Underground: The Way of the Hacker. PageFree Publishing, Inc. ISBN 1930252536.
  2. ^ ""Birds of a Feather" Sessions Highlight Revamped ISPCON Spring Conference". Business Wire. March 13, 2001. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
  3. ^ "Mac Users to Drive Discussions During Birds of a Feather Meetings at Macworld Conference & Expo". Business Wire. May 18, 2004. Retrieved 2008-05-31.

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