Most people have heard of RSS, however fewer know or understand what it is. RSS is an incredibly convenient online tool that provides users with endless amounts of information at their fingertips. Are you interested in learning if RSS is something you should be utilizing? Here is a basic overview of RSS, and its primary features and benefits.

Q: What is RSS?

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a web feed used to deliver regularly changing web content – such as blog entries, news headlines, audio and video – in a standardized format. Many blogs, news-related sites and online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS feed to whoever wants it. An RSS feed includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.

Q: What are the Benefits and Reasons for using RSS?

1. RSS allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites in which you are interested. You can choose to view the news you want, the news that interests you and the news that’s relevant to your work.
2. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually, and instead simply subscribing to the website content in which you are interested.
3. You ensure your privacy by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter.
4. Since RSS data is small and fast-loading, it can easily be used on smart phones.
5. RSS feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. RSS feeds allow the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs.
6. It’s becoming very popular. Thousands of sites use RSS, and more people understand its usefulness every day.

Q: How do I read an RSS Feed?

RSS feeds can be read using software called an “RSS Reader”, “Feed Reader” or “Aggregator”. The software allows you to grab the RSS feeds from various sites and display them for you to read and use.

A variety of RSS Readers is available for different platforms. Some popular feed readers include Amphetadesk (Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows – integrates with Outlook). There are also a number of web-based feed readers available. My Yahoo, Bloglines, and Google Reader are popular web-based feed readers.

Once you have your feed reader, it is a matter of finding sites that syndicate content and adding their RSS feed to the list of feeds checked by your feed reader. Many sites display a small icon with the acronyms RSS, XML, or RDF to let you know a feed is available.

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