Really Simple Syndicate or Rich Site Summary
There are millions of web users out there who’ve been surfing the net for years and still have no idea what Rss feeds are or how to use them.
Just about every site you come across nowadays will have some sort of feed and probably be asking you to sign up to it one way or another.
You will also be used to seeing this logo just about everywhere you go and wonder what it means.
To clear things up, an Rss feed is simply an easy way of getting the latest updates or new content from a site to those who are interested, i.e those who sign up to the feed.
This new content which can consist of blog updates, audio, video, headlines, news bulletins and just about anything else is automatically delivered to the user via a simple email or to the users feed reader or news aggregator.
The benefit of receiving an Rss feed is so users can go out and sign up to as many Rss feeds from their favourite sites as they like, and receive and read any new content from these numerous web sites without having to trawl the net and visit each one individually to read them. It also saves the reader from having to keep visiting these sites to check whether they’ve posted any new content or not.
Most feeds offer either the main headlines and a short summary of the new content with a link to read the full article, or offer the complete article in full to the user. There is great argument amongst web masters as to which is better to offer the reader. My feed happens to contain this sites new content in its entirety for the benefit of the readers.
The two main feed formats are Rss and Atom. It makes no difference to the user which is offered. Obviously if you sign up to get a sites feed delivered to you by email, then you will receive an email containing the same information in what ever mail account you specify when you sign up.
Feed Readers and News Aggregators
These are simple applications that allow you to collect, display and read these feeds automatically. There are many different feed readers out there to choose from depending on what platform and web browser you use.
Many applications such as Microsoft Outlook can also be set up to use as a feed reader. You simply add the feed address of the site you want updates from into the Rss feed settings in the application and they will be delivered straight to your Microsoft Outlook account.
Whether you use a web based feed reader from your browser, an application such as Outlook, or you get your feeds delivered to you by e mail the process is extremely simple and will only take a couple of clicks to set up.
Generally you find the Rss icon somewhere on the web sites main index page and click on it (or the surrounding explanatory text) and follow the instructions.
Alternatively, if you use Internet Explorer, when you visit a site with an active Rss feed, you will see the Rss icon near the top of the page on your I.E Toolbar about 3/4 of the way across the screen.
Click on the icon to enter the feed page, then find the link to subscribe to that feed and click it.
If there is no active feed on the page you will find the orange Rss icon greyed out and you will be unable to select it.
If you use Firefox as your main web browser, you should see the orange Rss icon somewhere on the right hand side of your main www. address bar. Click the icon and then in the pull down menu that appears, select ‘Subscribe to this feed’.
That’s it. When ever that site provides new content, it will immediately be posted to your reader.
Feeds are also great for writers or webmasters sourcing fresh content for web sites and blogs as you can set up your feed reader to collect all feeds and information accross the web tagged with certain keywords such as ‘guitar’ or ‘fishing’ etc. So every time you check the contents of your reader, it should be full of loads of useful stuff to read.
While you are here, why not get started and sign up to my feed by clicking one of the links below. If you haven’t got a reader yet, I highly recommend you go and get yourself a free Google Reader account first.
If you are still not sure what I’m on about, here’s a quick video on how to use Rss.