Saturday, April 23, 2011

FAQ's (and answers) Regarding RSS Feeds and Blog Subscriptions (and some links for RSS fees you should be reading!)

"Information is a source of learning.  But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit." 
~William Pollard 

Ever wondered what that little orange icon is for?  It's all over the the internet and on your favorite websites but never really explained. Your favorite bloggers ask for you to subscribe to their RSS feed  but how exactly does that work?  Why should you subscribe to a feed instead of just visiting your favorite blogs when you want or subscribe by email instead?  

If you are not familiar with RSS feeds or feed readers, that little orange icon can seem a little intimidating. I am going to do my best to demystify RSS subscriptions as well as give you some suggestions for some great RSS feeds for you subscribe to.

What Is an RSS Feed?

RSS stands for Rich Site Summary or more commonly known as Real Simple Syndication. 

RSS is a way for websites that update their content regularly (like a blog or a news website) to ‘syndicate’ their content so that readers do not have to visit the actual website in order to read the new content. 

Readers simply subscribe to all the websites they read and get the syndicated version of the content all in one place. 

What is a Feed Reader?

A feed reader can either be software that you download to your computer or web-based program that collects the feeds from all the websites you subscribe to and brings them together in one place.  

The benefits to using a feed reader is that you can read content from all your favorite websites all in one place without having to remember to visit each one individually and check for updates. 

Using a feed reader instead of subscribing by email protects your privacy and keeps you from ending up with an inbox full of junk. Instead of you giving your information to the website, you are using a feed reader to pull their information to you.  This way you can subscribe and unsubscribe as you wish without having your email address floating around.

I would suggest trying a web based feed reader like Google Reader (if you already "follow" your favorite blogs through blogger, all of these feeds will automatically be added to your google reader without you having to do a thing), My Yahoo or Bloglines

There are also multiple smart phone apps that serve as feed readers, just search your app store for “feed reader” or “news aggregator” and start adding all your favorite websites.


How do I know what websites have an RSS feed?

Nearly all websites that update their content regularly have an RSS feed. 

You can start by checking for the RSS symbol on your favorite websites and clicking on that to add that feed to your reader.  If you do not see the RSS symbol but the website does update content regularly you can add it through your feed reader.  From you feed reader just click “add a new feed” and copy and paste the web address, your feed reader will search for any RSS feed associated to that website and add them to your list.

Any suggestions for RSS feeds I might want to subscribe to?

Yes!

After you have subscribed to all your favorite blogs (including this one!) check out some of these other websites that offer an RSS feed

quote of the day
Yoga Journals awesome blogs
Omnivoracious (Amazons daily book blog)
FaceBook updates (go to notifications in your facebook profile and click "subscribe via RSS")
Local news websites

Once you start using a feed reader you will start noticing the RSS symbol everywhere!  Using a feed reader will open up a whole new world of information to you all right at your fingertips.

More questions?  Feel free to ask me in the comments and I will answer as best as I can. 

Happy reading!

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