Birds of a feather (computing)

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This article is about the use of this phrase in computing. For other uses, see Birds of a Feather (disambiguation).

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 was at an Oregon University System State-wide conference in 2014. The conference was entitled "Teaching T.A.L.K.S. (Today's Academics Linking Knowledge and Skills). The term was created by the organizers of the conference, Dr. Kay Sagmiller and Sandra Baily to allow flexible grouping at the conference: by discipline, topic, or institution. The term, "Birds of a feather" was designed to appeal to Oregon faculty.

BoFs can facilitate networking and partnership formation among subgroups, including functionally oriented groups such as CEOs or geographically oriented groups.[1] 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.[2]


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.

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