What are RSS Feeds?

Introduction

When you are reading a book, you use a bookmark to mark a page where you stopped or a page which is important to you. This also happens on the web. You probably have an list of  the URLs of websites you like. Some of you are probably familiar with the bookmark feature of your browsers: the star in Google Chrome’s address bar, the Favorite>Add to Favorites in Internet Explorer, and CLTR+D in Firefox.

Browser bookmarking is good way to mark your favorite sites, but the problem is that browsers are not capable of informing you when site you bookmarked new articles or updates.  You have to visit the website to check for new articles.

This is where RSS comes in.  It’s like a browser saying ‘Hey, Math and Multimedia has a new post.’ This is similar to email subscriptions: users are informed whenever a site is updated.  Some RSS feed management providers such as Feedburner offer RSS email subscriptions as well.

Now, what RSS really?

RSS (Really Simple Syndication), is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated websites such as blogs and newspapers. A feed is a full or summarized text of an article or a blog post which includes  some information such as the author, the date of time it was published, etc.

How to use RSS Feeds

You use RSS Feeds to subscribe to a particular website. For example, you like Math and Multimedia and you want to be updated everytime an article is posted, one way of following the site is by subscribing to its RSS Feeds.

To subscribe to an RSS Feed, you need to have and RSS reader first. One example of an RSS reader is Google reader, which you already have if you have a Google Account.  To subscribe to a blog or website feeds, you just have to click the RSS button (see Figure above) to go to the site’s RSS URL. RSS Feeds URLs look like these:

You have to copy the feed of your chosen website or blog to your feed reader. After doing this, everytime a new post is made, you will be informed through your reader that the website you subscribed to has a new post.

A more detailed tutorial on how to subscribe to a feed using Google Reader can be found here.

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