What the Heck is RSS?

First off, thanks to Copyblogger.com. This mini-tutorial is attributed to them.

Now, back to RSS…

Why should I care about RSS?

Good question. First, here’s why you should care.

Unlike getting website updates or ezines by email, RSS feeds give you absolute, 100% complete control over the situation.

You don’t have to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you don’t have to request to be “taken off the list.”

One click, and poof… the subscription is gone.

Plus, since there’s no email address involved, there’s no way a publisher can sell, rent or give away the means to contact you.

That’s right… no more spam, viruses, phishing, or identity theft. And best of all, no reason to put yourself at the mercy of the publisher’s intentions.

You won’t need to suffer through the legalese in the privacy policy (if there is one) looking for loopholes that will send you deeper into inbox hell. No more setting up dummy GMail or Yahoo!Mail accounts “just in case.”

Again, if you don’t 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! Umm… What the heck is RSS?

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, that’s the essence of an RSS feed – 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, My MSN or iGoogle, you’ve got RSS capabilities built in. That’s 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 it’s also free and easy to get started with.

For more info on getting started with Bloglines, read Bloglines (and aggregators in general) from Carson McComas of WorkHappy.net.

If you use the Firefox browser, you can also receive RSS feeds from your tool bar by using the Live Bookmarks function. The new version of Internet Explorer, that is version 7, also has 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, it’s really not. And things will get even easier when the next version of Outlook integrates feed-reading capabilities. So, you’ll 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 Pinoy Internet Business(PIB) and many other popular sites), you’ll 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 you’ll 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):

Add to Google

Subscribe in Bloglines

Add to Pageflakes

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 box.

Hopefully this last method will soon disappear, never to be seen again.

In summary: RSS solves BIG problems.

So there you have it… RSS is being adopted at a phenomenal rate, because it’s a good thing for everyone.

The benefit to readers is obvious. And it’s 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 there’s anything here that is confusing, or you have a question, please email me and I’ll be happy to help!

“Again, thanks to Copyblogger for a helping hand with this RSS mini-tutorial.”

Comments

One Response to “What the Heck is RSS?”

  1. What you should know about RSS? | Pinoy Internet Business Marketing on September 11th, 2008 10:08 am

    […] Stanley Dumanig  I already published an article about this topic. To know more, check out my article on RSS. However, I want to revisit it again, explain how this site uses RSS and how you can benefit from […]

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