There is still a lot of confusion out there as to what RSS feeds do, how they are read, and what they are useful for. So, we decided to clear up the confusion with this Tuesday Tech Tip and maybe even give you some ideas on how you can use them yourself.
What RSS Does
Say you have a number of sites you visit semi-frequently. Usually the main reason you’d visit a site on a regular basis is to obtain new information. Where RSS can come in, is that it will actually take all the new information from these sites, check them for updates every few minutes, then deliver them to you either in your email inbox or in an RSS reader, categorized by the site they came from.
How It Works
There are a number of different RSS reader applications that you would then use to add a list of “feeds” of the websites you want to get updates from. Just about every website out there will naturally have a feed to pull information from, and when your RSS reader finds something new, it will pull the new updates for you to read.
What You Need
All you need is an RSS feed reader, and luckily there are a lot of free ones out there, and now there are web-based ones as well that you can use instead of having to download an actual application. We suggest http://www.google.com/reader.
Once you have your RSS feed reader ready to go, look out for websites that have the RSS icon (looks like this: ). Clicking the icon will give you the link you need to paste into your RSS feed reader. If you don’t see the icon, another way to get an RSS feed for a website is to go to Feedburner and put in the URL for the website where it says “Burn a feed right this instant”. This will create an RSS feed link for the website you want to keep updated on that you can then plug into the feed reader.
Hopefully this clears up any confusion you may have had about RSS feeds. Reading an RSS feed is sort of like reading your news feed on Facebook or Twitter — only it’s taking updates from your favorite websites instead, consolidating them and saving you a ton of time!
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