Are Tech Support Sites like and MSDN Forums Sticky?

I hear from some folks inside Microsoft that sites like the MSDN forums aren’t “sticky”, that people don’t keep coming back to form a “community”, and that they are purely transactional in nature.  I don’t buy these statements one bit.  Here is someone else for whom the MSDN forums have become sticky for.!80677FB08B3162E4!892.entry

Have you seen the MSDN Forums yet?  They are located at: and are pretty good.  They are sort of a sister to the NNTP newsgroups at, and I have been spending most of my online time on them, specifically in the Transact SQL group:
As to which is better, NNTP (classic usenet style newsgroups) or the Forums, I won’t get into that religious debate here (I do get into it in other places, mind you, just not here) but after giving them a try there is one thing I have started to like about the forums.  Portability.  I can check messages at home, at the office, and even on my PDA phone when I am supposed to be paying attention to something else (like the other people at a lunch table, for example.) 
For this reason I have put the Forums at the top of my current list of places to visit and answer questions and I hope to see a few of you drop by too.

What do you think?  Are tech support “communties” really sticky or not?  Do you go to sites like this for 10-15 minutes a day to browse even if you don’t need to?  If so, why?


Comments (12)

  1. davkean says:

    They are sticky for those who want to answer questions, otherwise, they are only a means to get a question answered and that’s it.

  2. TravisOwens says:

    I’d say you’re both right… forums aren’t as "sticky" as a chat channel/room but they aren’t totally temporary.

    I’d say a large amount of people who join a forum may only go to the forum when they need help.  As one’s skill matures and you become the kind of person to answer other people’s questions.  Currently there is only 1 forum ( I go to regularly just to answer questions and read what’s going on.  

    Unfortunately I believe there is a turning point, there are some other forums/chats I use to go to and when I got so skilled in the subject the users could never answer my questions I started to lose interest in them and left.

    I’d called web forums semi-sticky but I think they are a huge improvement over USENET as the average person doesn’t even know what Usenet is.

  3. I firmly believe they are sticky.  I swing by several times a week and browse.  Sometimes I am looking to see if I can answer a question, sometimes I’m just curious what questions are being asked.  I really like the improvements which have been added to the forums as well.

  4. MSDNArchive says:

    David: So says the top answerer. 🙂 Couldn’t sticky apply to people that read as well? If they keep coming back?

    Travis: Any technical chat rooms you know of that are sticky?

    Mickey: Your the example of the reading sticky part.

  5. TravisOwens says:

    jledgard: imho all technical IRC chat rooms are sticky, there’s a few I go to and the entire crowd are regulars ( on Efnet #webdesign, #html, #c#, etc)

  6. SandyK says:

    As one of the guys that made the comment Josh described(I’m guilty!), I think I was thinking along David’s response.  Actually, I think is more sticky because it is a combination of several services and threaded discussions are just one component.  With, I’d like to think about how to surface the forums within other sites to distribute the content and target the right audiences.  I guess I see this in relative terms.  The VB.NET forums are interesting on, but (just brainstorming) could they be more interesting if they were embedded in the VB.NET dev center?  What if we supported a threaded discussion for each article that was on that dev center to discuss the article (as opposed to just q&a)?  I’d go to the dev center to see question & answers, articles, information, news, etc.  To me, that’s really sticky.

  7. Craig Monro says:

    After 15 years of developing software in the Bill Gates space I think it is fair to safe that nothing is sticky.

    People come and people go. Technology keeps moving.

    Most people hang around for a bit to learn what they need, and then they say ‘thanks for all the fish’ and then depart.

  8. Rup says:

    I used to answer questions from gotdotnet’s newbies forum for a bit. What made it easy was email notifications: if you subscribe to a forum you’ll get all new posts in the form emailed to you. When I got a question in my inbox if I had time and inclination I’d go answer; if not, I could just let it go. However that only works well if it’s low traffic.

    How about a similar mechanism: I subscribe to say the Visual C# forum and every day – ideally at a time I configure, say lunch time in my timezone – it mails me a summary of new questions in the last 24 hours, highlighting questions that are still open / unanswered?

    That way I can still get involved passively, and the forum sticks to me whether I like it or not 🙂

    I haven’t played with MSDN forums for a while so if you’ve already got something like this, sorry. But I can’t see one.

  9. MSDNArchive says:

    Rup: At the moment there is no e-mail notification like this for the whole forum, but there are RSS feeds for each forum on msdn.

  10. Rup says:

    Ah, thanks – I hadn’t noticed. I’ll hop on a few feeds and see if I can answer anything!

  11. So Josh Ledgard and I have been having a discussion around what makes a sticky community experience. …

  12. So Josh Ledgard and I have been having a discussion around what makes a sticky community experience.