Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather sessions (BoFs) are initial, informal, in-person discussions about a particular the topic of interest to the IETF community. BoFs may or may not lead to establishing an IETF Working Group.

Key Info

BoFs are usually held at IETF meetings. Space to hold a BoF must be requested in advance of the meeting. For the BoFs scheduled for the next IETF meeting, see the IETF Datatracker.

Guidelines 

Please read RFC 5434 for guidelines on how to best form successful new efforts at the IETF.

BOF Scheduling

As of March 1993 IESG adopted the following policy on the scheduling of BOFs during IETF meetings:

  1. All BOFs wishing to meet during an IETF meeting must have the approval of the appropriate Area Director. A list of current Area Directors can be found on the IETF Web site here. The Secretariat will NOT schedule or allocate time slots without the explicit approval of the Area Director. Please send a courtesy copy of your request to agenda@ietf.org and ask the Area Director to copy this address on the decision.

    NOTE: ALL requests for BOFs must be accompanied by BOF Description and Agenda, and the relevant Area Directors must be copied. The Secretariat should ONLY schedule complete requests (pending AD approval)

  2. The purpose of a BOF is to conduct a single, brief discussion or to ascertain interest and establish goals for a working group. All BOF organizers are required to submit a brief written report of what transpired during the BOF meeting, together with a roster of attendees, to the IETF Secretariat for inclusion in the proceedings.

  3. A BOF can only be held once (ONE slot at one IETF meeting).

  4. Under unusual circumstances an Area Director can allow a BOF to meet for a second time. Typically, though not a requirement, this is to develop a charter to be submitted to the IESG.

  5. BOFs are not permitted to meet three times.

  6. Non-IETF groups wishing to participate in IETF meetings may hold a BOF for single-event discussion, or may pursue creation of normal IETF working groups for on-going interactions and disussions. The rules governing such BOFs are the same as for all other IETF BOFs and working groups.

  7. When necessary, working groups will be given priority for meeting space over BOFs.

  8. Once scheduled, BOFs are handled like working groups with regard to the meeting and proceedings. We require minutes and an attendee roster for the proceedings.

  9. BOF chairs are asked to send a brief announcement of the BOF to the IETF list.

NOTE: NOTHING is automatic, especially obtaining a meeting slot for a BOF. Creation of a draft charter or description and demonstration of interest does NOT mean a BOF will be held. It is up to the APPROPRIATE Area Director to approve.

BOF Sessions Request

Requests to schedule BOF sessions must be sent to agenda@ietf.org with a copy to the appropriate Area Director(s). Please be sure to include the BOF acronym in the Subject line of the email.

BOFs will NOT be scheduled unless the Area Director(s) approved request is accompanied by the following information:

  • BOF's full name and acronym in brackets
  • AREA under which Working Group or BOF appears
  • Chair(s) Name(s) and e-mail address(es)
  • Agenda
  • Full Description of BOF
  • CONFLICTS you wish to avoid, please be as specific as possible:
  • Expected Attendance (figures from the previous IETF meeting are included in the message that is sent when scheduling opens):
  • Special requests:
  • Number of sessions:
  • Length of sessions:
    • 1 hour
    • 2 hours
    • 2 1/2 hours

For more information on scheduling Working Group and BOF sessions, please refer to RFC 2418 (BCP 25), IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures.

Bibliography

  • [1] RFC 5434
    Considerations for Having a Successful Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) Session

    This document discusses tactics and strategy for hosting a successful IETF Birds-of-a-Feather (BOF) session, especially one oriented at the formation of an IETF Working Group. It is based on the experiences of having participated in numerous BOFs, both successful and unsuccessful. [STANDARDS-TRACK]

    Dr. Thomas Narten

  • [2] RFC 2418
    IETF Working Group Guidelines and Procedures

    This document describes the guidelines and procedures for formation and operation of IETF working groups. This document specifies an Internet Best Current Practices for the Internet Community, and requests discussion and suggestions for improvements.