Web-JIVE’s customers periodically come to us with questions about technical “lingo” that is discussed on the web and in many publications.  Our most recent question revolves around the term “RSS Feed”.  RSS (Rich Site Summary, or REALLY SIMPLE SYNDICATION as some people define it!) is a format for delivering regularly changing, and automatically updated, web content.  News-related sites, weblogs,  and other online publishers are examples of sources who syndicate their content as an RSS Feed.  This format enables them to share their content with whoever wants it. Job listings, personals, and classifieds are a few more examples of information you can get via RSS.

Benefits of using RSS:  RSS solves a problem for people who regularly use the web. It allows you to easily stay informed by retrieving the latest content from the sites you are interested in. You save time because there’s no need to visit each site individually. You ensure your privacy because there’s no need to join each site’s email newsletter. The number of sites offering RSS feeds is growing rapidly and includes big names like Yahoo News.

Feed Reader or News Aggregator software allows you to grab the RSS feeds from various sites and display them for you to read and use.  A variety of RSS Readers are available for different platforms.  There are also a number of web-based feed readers available. My Yahoo is an example of a web-based feed reader.  More and more sites offer RSS feeds, which you can identify by a small button that says either RSS or XML, or has a symbol like the symbols at the beginning of this blog.  However, if you click one of these links, you will most likely get a page full of code in your browser. To properly read the feed, you need an RSS reader.

PLEASE NOTE:  The following internet browsers have the technology to automatically read RSS feeds without any additional work on your part!  They are Internet Explorer 7 and newer, Firefox 3 and newer, and Safari 3 and newer.

Here are a few sites that explain more about RSS feed readers, and how to get and use one if you have a browser version older than the list above.

Once you have your Feed Reader, it is a matter of finding sites that syndicate content and adding their RSS feed to the list of feeds your Feed Reader checks. Many sites display a small icon with the acronyms RSS, XML, or RDF to let you know a feed is available.