What is RSS & how can I use it?

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RSS (also known as Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content to feedreaders. Many news-related sites, bloggers and other online publishers syndicate their content in the form of RSS feeds to allow users to keep up to date without always visiting their site.

This is an ongoing post. Please suggest corrections, explanations, etc. in the comment section at the bottom of this page.

If its functionality is activated, RSS is syndicated as a dynamic file and delivered at a static web address (e.g. www.yoursite.com/feed). This location is also referred to as the RSS feed location. Multiple RSS feed locations with different information can be syndicated per website.

WordPress websites has RSS functionality automatically built into its core. Apart from the website’s basic information, the content of this file also contains individual entries per page URL. Each time the website is updated, the RSS feed is updated too, basically adding the latest updates first.

Why use RSS?

The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly and Behind the Scenes is one of them.

For web browsers, RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows users easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites they are interested in. Users save time by not needing to visit each site individually.

For webmasters and bloggers, in addition to using search engines and social media platforms, RSS gives its readers an extra platform to access their content. It works great for websites which does not use social media platforms to post updates and/or gives a way for non-social media readers to know when the latest content has been posted.

For users their privacy is better protected by not needing to join each website’s email newsletter or following them on social media.

Feedreaders

Feedreader, or news aggregator software, is used to grab the content of one or more RSS feeds. Feedreaders can be used to display the content of feeds and/or use the content in other ways (e.g. Mailchimp can use RSS feeds to generate emails).

Today a variety of feedreaders are available on different platforms. Common ones include Feedly (all platforms), Pocket (all platforms), Flipboard (most platforms), 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 and Bloglines are popular web-based feed readers.

When using a feedreader it is just a matter of finding sites with RSS feeds and the feed URL to the list of feeds to check. Many sites display a small icon with the acronyms RSS to let you know a feed is available.

About the author
Renier busies himself with improving his English writing, creative web design and his websites, photoshopping, micro-electronics, multiple genres of music, superhero movies and badass series.

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