What exactly is RSS?

Really, REALLY BIG RSS feed buttonSo, I click on this orange button and I can get your latest posts. But what is RSS?

RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”. A RSS feed document can contain a summary or the full content of that site. It allows you to know the latest of all the sites you regularly visit saving you the trouble and time of visiting each individual site everyday to get the latest content. Almost all blogs, news sites and other sites that have regularly updated content provide RSS content.

View this three and a half minute video about RSS from CommonCraft:

So how do I get the content from ultimate geek girl or another website?

You can subscribe to the RSS feed of any website by using any feed reader or aggregator of your choice. You can subscribe by adding the RSS feed link into the software or by clicking on the RSS button on the site and adding the link to your web-based client. RSS software makes your life easy by checking if the sites you subscribe to have new content for you.

I prefer web-based feed readers, because the content is easily accessible from anywhere with an internet connection! Some of the most popular web-based feed readers are:

You can read more about the top RSS readers here.

Readers, do you have a favorite RSS reader? Let’s hear it in the comments!

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  1. Hey Ellie, nice explanation. I love Google Reader! Another advantage to RSS is that, while some sites also offer email subscriptions, with RSS it’s a lot easier to organize the tons of content you can get.

    I’m subscribed to 40 different feeds (and I know people who are subscribed to much more), and I get almost 100 items a day. With RSS, all those articles are available for me to read at my leisure and not cluttering my email. Most of the email I get is something I need to respond to and somewhat time sensitive, but my feeds are just in a totally different place so they don’t get mixed in with my important email. I’m using Gmail, so I could set up a filter to archive the posts and then apply a label for that site, but it would be cumbersome. And of course, not all sites offer email subscriptions (although from a publishing perspective it’s probably a good idea to offer email subscriptions because not everybody uses a feed reader).

    • I agree, Blake. The more RSS feeds you subscribe to, the easier it is to manage the flow of information via an RSS reader. But, you could also add filters to put all emails into a folder in your email account, and read at your leisure, if you just can’t “get with” RSS feeds.

      I heard about Feedwhip, which creates RSS feeds from websites that do not currently have them. So, technically you could set this up as a way to generate emails if you had the patience and knowhow. :)

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