What is RSS?
RSS – Rich Site Summary often called Really Simple Syndication, is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. An RSS feed of a page strips the information down to the bare essentials — usually the main text content, main images, or, if it’s a podcasts and video channels, the content itself.
A RSS feed allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time by not needing to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy by not needing to join each site’s email newsletter.
An RSS aggregator, also known as feed reader, is a program that runs in the background and constantly waits for your favorite sites to post new content. When something new is uploaded on a site you’re subscribed to, it instantaneously gets sent to your feed reader.
Aggregators typically come in two varieties; they can be Web-based or desktop-based. One of the most popular web-based feed readers is Bloglines. It’s free and easy to get started with. Two popular desktop based feed readers are Newsgator and Feed Demon.
You may already be using a form of feed reader, and not even realize it. If you use personalized home page services like My Yahoo or My MSN, you’ve got RSS capabilities built in. That’s how syndicated content like news, weather and stock quotes appears on your personal page. You can also add content from any blog or other site that uses RSS to provide updates.
How to subscribe to a RSS Feed
Look for the subscription or feed options. If the site you want to subscribe to uses FeedBurner to aid in the subscription process (like this and many other popular sites), you’ll likely see the standard RSS icon, which takes you to a page that will give you an array of the most popular feed readers so you can select yours, and you’ll go from there.
Once you’ve installed an aggregator or have subscribed via a web feed reader, you can start subscribing to your favorite sites.
Advantages of using RSS
RSS feeds give you 100% complete control when subscribing to site.
You do not need to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you don’t have to request to be “taken off the list”. With one click, you can unsubscribe.
Since you do not need to provide your email address, there is no way a publisher can sell, rent or give away the means to contact you. The end result, no more spam, viruses, phishing, or identity theft. And best of all, no reason to put yourself at the mercy of the publisher’s intentions.
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