A Beginner’s Guide to RSS and Why It is Still a Great Way to Consume Information

Saikat Basu

The web changes daily. New content gets published almost every hour in some cases. Now, you can bookmark your favorite sites and visit them daily, but that’s too much of work. RSS simplifies the whole thing.

RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. It has also been called ‘Rich Site Summary’. More commonly it is described as news feeds. What RSS does is basically described in the word – ‘feed’. (Here’s Guiding Tech’s feed. Do subscribe to it if you haven’t already)

RSS Explained Simply

RSS

RSS gives you all the relevant content that a website or blog publishes in the form of headlines, excerpts, and stories…or a combination of all three. You need to subscribe to a RSS feed of a website in order to receive these updates. Don’t worry; subscription to RSS is as simple as a click (that’s why it is called as Really Simple Syndication). RSS feeds can be read and managed using software called RSS reader, feed reader, or aggregator, which can be online, on the desktop, or on your mobiles. For instance, Google has a reader called Google Reader. Even a browser with a small add-on can be turned into a feed reader.

The Simple Two Step Process to Subscribe to a Website’s Feed

Subscribing to a feed is a very simple process:

Websites feature the RSS button prominently. It is usually an orange colored large button or any other color for that matter. Some websites also gives you a text link which simply says – Subscribe.

RSS

Click the RSS button to set up your browser to subscribe to the feed using your preferred RSS reader.

RSS

After you have subscribed to a few feeds you’ll begin to see them flowing into your feed-reader. A RSS feed-reader regularly checks all subscribed feeds for fresh content and downloads them if there are any. Start reading.

RSS

Uses of RSS and Why It Is Still A Great Way to Consume Information

Feed-readers and RSS subscriptions allow you to track many websites and blogs simultaneously. It remains the best way to consume a lot of information without the hassle of going to each source separately. But did you know that RSS is used in variety of other ways too. And you can also benefit from these alternative ways to track constantly changing information.

  • You can use feeds to track your favorite shopping sites for latest arrivals and discounts.
  • You can use feeds to track latest threads and posts on discussion boards.
  • You can use feeds as a weather tracker if you are always on the road.
  • You can use feeds to get alerted about the best financial information…for e.g. currency exchange rates or stock prices.
  • You can use feeds to be updated about the latest happenings in areas of your special interest.

I prefer using RSS instead of email, because the latter takes up too much inbox space and also invites spam. Twitter and Facebook feeds are great too, but they can be a mish-mash of what you are actually interested in and what’s noise. RSS and feed-readers give you the best of the digital world in a more focused manner. If you are setting yourself up to be an information junkie, subscribing to relevant RSS feeds is the way to go.

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