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What is RSS (Really Simple Syndication)?

By Lorna W.
Updated May 16, 2024
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RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a useful tool for keeping updated on your favorite websites. RSS makes use of an XML code that constantly scans the content of a website for updates and then broadcasts those updates to all subscribers through a feed.

RSS feeds are typically used with news sites or blogs, although any website can use them to disseminate information. When an update is sent out, it includes a headline and a small amount of text, either a summary or the lead-in to the larger story. You will need to click a link to read more.

In order to receive RSS feeds, you must have an aggregator, a feed reader. There are a number of aggregators online, many of them free, so with a little bit of searching, you should be able to find an interface that appeals to you. In addition to being available on your computer, RSS feeds can also be read on PDAs and cell phones.

When you come across a website you would like to add to your aggregator, you can do so in one of two ways. Most sites that offer an RSS feed have an "RSS" or "XML" button on their homepage that you can click on and it will instantly add that feed to your aggregator. Depending on your aggregator, you may instead need to copy and paste the URL of the feed into the program.

By either method, the feed will be available as soon as you've added it, and your next update could arrive in seconds. If you ever decide that you don't want to receive updates anymore, you simply delete the feed or URL from your aggregator.

Perhaps you already receive information on website updates through some sort of e-mail newsletter. RSS feeds are preferable to newsletter updates because they are instantaneous; you don't have to wait until a designated day of the week to receive your summary. They will also never be held up by a spam filter.

RSS feeds are used daily by people who realize the convenience of up-to-the-minute news and reports and the time they can save reading only those updates that interest them, and they look to become even more popular in the future.

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Discussion Comments
By everetra — On May 25, 2011

I love the whole RSS reader concept. I’ve used it to create my own personalized RSS news feeds of important news items from various websites. This includes an RSS ticker for stock market quotes, feeds for world news as well as highlights from the latest action in sports.

I now have all of this information aggregated in one place instead of having to search for it online like I did before. It’s a big time saver.

By MrMoody — On May 24, 2011

@nony - I believe most blogs have these settings available automatically. It depends on what kind of service you’re signed up with, but it should give you the option to set up the RSS feed somewhere in your settings or somewhere like that.

By nony — On May 21, 2011

I’m starting a blog. What if I want to create an RSS newsfeed so that I can sign up other people to my blog so that they can receive updates? Is there any easy way to do that or do I have to create an XML file and give them some HTML code?

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