How Does RSS Work?


If you use Google Reader or similar programs, you might find yourself wondering just how RSS works and if you’ve never aggregated your news, you might be wondering just what the heck RSS is.

It couldn’t be simpler and it says so right in the name: RSS simply stands for “really simple syndication,” making it a tool to distribute and organize different news feeds.

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What Is RSS?

Instead of checking dozens of news sites to scan for headlines, or checking your favorite blogs for new posts daily, you can use an RSS reader to gather the news and combine it into one convenient place.

Since most sites don’t release content on a schedule—and because it’s tedious to check sites one by one for new information—RSS solves the problem by putting news in one place as it becomes available, storing it until you read it or delete it.

How RSS Works

You subscribe to RSS “feeds” and put them in your “reader.” Many web browsers incorporate RSS readers into their software, or you can use an online reader. You can add subscriptions from the websites themselves (a little orange box with wavy white lines in it is code for “add this to your RSS!”), or directly from the reader (depending on the version, you can usually search and add from a sidebar in the reader itself).

You can even separate types of news into folders (say, “cats,” “food blogs,” and “top headline news”), giving yourself the option of categorizing newsof a certain type at once. Of course, you can also read by website, by all news at once, or any other way you can dream up. Many RSS readers offer options to store or notate content. For instance, you can often “star” a favorite article, or e-mail it directly to a friend from your reader. You can usually share on social media platforms from your aggregator as well. You’ll also be able to browse new content; who knows, you might just find your new favorite blog.

RSS For Fun & Profit

If you’d like to add RSS to your own personal blog, that’s easy too. Most blog software will generate the feed for you, and you need only distribute the link or click a button to allow “the little orange box” to pop up on your page. As soon as you update, RSS readers pick up the feed and display the content to whomever has subscribed.

RSS is truly really simple syndication, but it doesn’t have to be just for news. You can syndicate just about anything used to distribute information, including even podcasts. RSS is not only easy to use, it’s easy to start using, and once you do, you’ll be scrolling major headlines, starring dinner recipes, and wondering why it took you so long to use RSS in no time.

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