The word sticky can mean many different things from a gooey substance, such as gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe, to a sticky situation. However, when it comes to the Internet there are two basic uses of the term sticky. The first is in regard to website traffic.
A site that is considered to be sticky is a site where visitors spend a lot of time. Of course, all websites do their best to retain visitors, but some do a better job than others do. Some sites just lend themselves to stickiness either because of popular web content, or because of their entertainment value, as is the case with gaming sites or message boards. Video, music, and other social networking websites tend to be sticky too.
Sticky websites tend to draw a crowd through word of mouth and then must keep up the service or continue improving it in order to get people to hang around. There has been some discussion concerning rating sites on stickiness instead of total page views. Those with sticky sites may fare better in terms of ad revenue if this becomes the method, or if the method is a combination of page views and time spent on a page.
A second common use of the word sticky in regard to the Internet has to do with message boards. Different types of bulletin boards and forums utilize different configurations. Many popular designs use a system where the latest message, or the one most recently responded to, is “bumped” back up to the top of the page.
If there are a bunch of people using the forum, threads can start moving quickly. Some messages may be pushed to the bottom of the page or off the front page altogether. This is where a sticky comes in, to help keep important messages organized and accessible.
If there is an important topic or if an administrator has an announcement, he or she can place or “pin” that message at the top of the page instead of allowing it to be pushed up or down by other messages. This is often done to inform users when a board will experience downtime for maintenance. It is also a good method for posting forum rules or frequently asked questions.
Some forums have more than one sticky at the top of the page. Messages are pinned to advise visitors on everything from registration to terms of service. It is usually a good idea to look for and read any stickies when joining a new message board.