What is an RSS Feed?

(bloggersblog > rss feed)

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" or "Rich Site Summary." It is built using XML (eXtensible Markup Language). RSS has been around in some format since as early as 1999. It was initially developed by Netscape and later modified for wider use by Dave Winer and UserLand Software. The RSS icon was developed in 2004 by Stephen Horlander according to the Wikpedia RSS entry.

RSS Icon

RSS Helps Provides Notification of New Blog Posts and Data

If you are interested in information from a blog or news provider and they have an RSS Feed (aka news feed) available you can subscribe to it with a News Reader and keep track of any new articles or blog entries they provide. For example, if you add a blog's RSS feed to your news reader you can keep easily keep track of all the blog's latest posts. The news reader will let you know when a new blog entry has been posted. The news reader does this by periodically checking the RSS feed to see if it has been updated. Publishers can also ping the news reader to let them know that something new has been posted.

Track Multiple RSS Feeds With Newsreaders

RSS Feeds are very useful because they make it easy for people to track multiple blogs and news sources at one time. Many people using news readers subscribe to dozens or even hundreds of different feeds.

To read RSS Feeds you need a News Reader. News readers are also known as News Aggregators, RSS Aggregators, Feed Readers, RSS Feed Readers and RSS Readers.

News readers like Feedly work in the browser and make it easy to subscribe and categorize feeds. Mozilla's Firefox browser also lets you subscribe to RSS feeds while you are browsing the Web. This feature is called Live Bookmarks.

Once you have a registered with one of the online news readers or downloaded a desktop news reader then you can quickly subscribe to RSS feeds. Most blogs and websites will provide a link that you can click on to subscribe to their feed. This link is often found by following a link that says "RSS feed" or by clicking on the orange RSS icon pictured above.

You can find our RSS Feeds here.

RSS is Used Widely

RSS never really broke into the mainstream. RSS became a buzzword in the blogosphere but failed to break out into the mainstream. While knowledge of RSS may not be breaking into the mainstream there are apps and widgets using RSS behind the scenes. RSS feeds are even more widely used today. They are not just for blogs. RSS feeds can also act as new data notifiers for a wide variety of services.

Many people who regularly use RSS and benefit from it have no clue what RSS is. Blogs once had a similar problem. People were reading them without realizing they were blogs. Today, people can also find blog and news updates using social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. The result is that usage of RSS readers has fallen even though RSS continues to be used behind-the-scenes.

Here is a helpful video from Common Craft that explains RSS. It is called RSS in Plain English. The video mentions Google Reader, which is no longer available. Some current readers include Feedly, Newsblur, Inoreader and The Old Reader.