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RSS Explained

What is RSS?

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication."

Syndication is the act of making content available for others to read, listen to, or watch. RSS feeds are just a special kind of web page, designed for computers to read rather than people. It might help think of them as the free, Internet version of the old-fashioned ticker-tape news wire machines.

RSS allows you to see when sites from all over the Internet have added new content. You can get the latest headlines and articles (or even audio files, photographs or video) in one place, as soon as they are published, without having to remember to visit each site every day.

The feed includes a list of headlines and snippets: the headline informs the reader of what a new article or page contains and the snippet (usually the first few lines of the article) gives you more information or entices you into visiting the website with a "click here to read more" link.

How can I read RSS content?

You can usually identify an RSS feed because there is a small, usually orange, button near it saying RSS, RDF or XML that you may click to access the RSS feed. Like this one: RSS icon used as a link to the Oxford Gun Company Stock List RSS Feed

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 news reader.

What is an RSS News Reader?

This is a piece of software that checks RSS feeds and lets you read new articles that have been added to them. Many let you organise, search, categorise and use news items just like emails.

RSS News Readers

Many software programs may have built-in RSS news readers. These include several Web browsers; Firefox (PC and Mac), Opera (PC and Mac) and Safari (Mac) all allow you to read RSS feeds in the browser. Email programs that allow you to read RSS news feeds include; Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla's Thunderbird (which integrates with the Firefox browser) and many others.