Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What Is a Site or RSS Feed?

Site feeds are also known as RSS feeds. RSS can stand for Rich Site Summary, Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary, depending upon whom you ask. RSS has come to refer to any of several types of web files used primarily by blogs, news sites and other frequently updated web pages. RSS feeds are created with XML coding, which is why they are sometimes referred to as XML feeds.

The availability of a feed is usually indicated on web pages with a XML or other small graphic like you see on this page, or with a "Syndicate this site" or "RSS" link. Thanks to RSS feeds, it is possible for you to stay current with news items and blog postings from dozens or hundreds of sites without having to visit each of those sites repeatedly to find out if it has been updated.

RSS feeds are not meant to be read using a web browser. You read them with a special program called a news aggregator or feed reader. Aggregators and readers include programs loaded onto your computer, such as FeedDemon, or websites, such as My Yahoo! and Bloglines. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds by email, using services such as RMail or FeedBlitz.

Using the aggregator or reader of your choice, you subscribe to RSS feeds for the websites and blogs that interest you. When those sites and blogs are updated, their RSS feeds are also automatically updated with headlines and sometimes with excerpts or full-text. The aggregator or reader automatically checks those feeds for updates, collects the new information, and organizes and displays it in reverse chronological order. Simply by checking your aggregator for new items, you can check new information from many sources in a matter of minutes.

To learn how to subscribe to feeds using Bloglines, read Using Bloglines to Manage Your Blogs and News Feeds.

For more information on RSS:

For more feed readers, browse the RSS Compendium or the Open Directory's lists of News Readers.

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