//Note: Search for "YOUR FEED URL HERE" and replace as appropriate before posting// What the Heck is RSS?
And why should I care?
Good questions. First, hereís why you should care.
Unlike getting website updates or ezines by email, RSS feeds give you absolute, 100% complete control over the situation.
You donít have to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you donít have to request to be ďtaken off the list.Ē
One click, and poofÖ the subscription is gone.
Plus, since thereís no email address involved, thereís no way a publisher can sell, rent or give away the means to contact you.
Thatís rightÖ no more spam, viruses, phishing, or identity theft. And best of all, no reason to put yourself at the mercy of the publisherís intentions.
Again, if you donít like the content, you can make it disappear as fast as you can change a TV channel. With just one click.
Pretty cool, huh?
That is cool! UmmÖ What the heck is RSS?
Alright! Now weíre ready to get to that part.
RSS is a simply an Internet technology standard that allows busy people to receive updates to web-based content of interest.
You might have figured that much out by now. But basically, thatís the essence of an RSS feed Ė you subscribe and then receive new content automatically in your feed reader.
If you actually want to know how RSS works, click here.
What the heck is a feed reader?
You may already be using a form of feed reader, and not even realize it. If you use personalized home page services like My Yahoo or My MSN, youíve got RSS capabilities built in. Thatís how syndicated content like news, weather and stock quotes appears on your personal page. You can also add content from any blog or other site that uses RSS to provide updates.
Other web-based tools are primarily dedicated to feed reading only. One of the most popular web-based feed readers at this point is Bloglines, and itís also free and easy to get started with.
If you use the Firefox browser, you can also receive RSS feeds from your tool bar by using the Live Bookmarks function. The next version of Internet Explorer will add this feature as well.
Finally, there are desktop-based feed readers. These function somewhat like an email program for feeds. Examples include Newsgator and Feed Demon.
If it sounds complicated, itís really not. And things will get even easier when the next version of Outlook integrates feed-reading capabilities. So, youíll have the same convenience that email subscriptions offered in the old days, without any of the terrible consequences of giving out your email address to potentially unscrupulous characters.
Sounds good. So how do I subscribe to a Feed?
First of all, look for the subscription or feed options (some bloggers make this difficult for some odd reason). You might see a variety of buttons (amusingly called chicklets).
If the site you want to subscribe to uses FeedBurner to aid in the subscription process (like Copyblogger and many other popular sites), youíll likely see the standard RSS icon, which takes you to a page that will give you an array of the most popular feed readers so you can select yours, and youíll go from there. This is the new standard RSS icon:
Sometimes there will be a chicklet for your particular reader right on the blog that will take you to the appropriate subscription page. You may see these (among others):
Finally, you may also see little orange buttons that say XML or RSS. Often these chicklets will take you to a page that looks like code gibberish. In this case, you simply cut and paste the page URL from your browser window and manually paste it into your feed reader subscription function.
Hopefully this last method will soon disappear, never to be seen again.
In summary: RSS solves BIG problems.
So there you have itÖ RSS is being adopted at a phenomenal rate, because itís a good thing for everyone.
The benefit to readers is obvious. And itís good for publishers too, because we want to make sure that people feel comfortable subscribing, and that our message is not nuked by an overzealous spam filter.
If thereís anything here that is confusing, or you have a question, please contact me and Iíll be happy to help!
Thanks to Copyblogger for a helping hand with this tutorial.