RSS, or 'Really Simple Syndication', is an Internet format that allows for easy sharing of information such as news headlines and other web content. By subscribing to an RSS feed you can find out about news or other content updates to a website without having to remember to visit the site each day.
Subscribing to an RSS feed is different to subscribing to an email newsletter:
- It requires no e-mail address and is not delivered to your e-mail address
- Content cannot be blocked by various filters
- There are no viruses, trojans, or dangerous content to worry about
- It's opt-in , ie. you only receive the content you choose and you can easily remove any feed when you don't want it anymore
- Your newsreader will automatically display the new item whenever the web page is updated.
If a web site provides an RSS feed, it is usually obvious from the orange 'RSS' or 'XML' icon(s) (eg. ) that link to their feed(s).
How does it work?
You first need an RSS reader or aggregator, which is special software for managing and reading RSS content.
- There are many readers available and many are free. Some are programs you download and install on your computer, others are web-based services that you access with your web browser (eg My Yahoo! users can now add RSS feeds directly to their personal page). RSS reader functionality also may be incorporated in other client software, including Web browsers (eg Firefox, Opera and Safari, and promised for IE7) and e-mail clients (Thunderbird, Opera Mail, plug-in for Outlook).
- Whichever style of reader you choose, once you have it you can then start adding content. Whenever you see an image (commonly orange) saying RSS, or XML, Syndicate this, etc., you can add the content feed into your reader. Generally this is done by clicking on the icon and copying the URL of the resulting page into your reader. Check your reader for specific instructions about how to add feeds.
- RSS feeds are actually just XML files that your reader will regularly check to see if they've changed from the last time you read them. It will then display the new links and content summaries and allow you to click through to read complete articles in its browser. When clicking on the article you are taken to the source website to view the article.
Where can I find a news reader or aggregator?
To find an RSS reader to suit your needs, try these links (or search the web for 'RSS News Readers'):
- Google - A list of news readers on the Google Directory
- Haiko Hebig - List of many feed readers/news aggregators, divided by platform and operating system.
- Wikipedia - Useful information from the free online encyclopedia plus a list of available RSS readers.
- RSSreaders - A list of RSS aggregators including product details and divided by platform.