RSS Help and Information

Frequently Asked Questions about RSS

  • What is RSS?
    Please check out the Wikipedia definition page - it also answers some of the other questions.
  • Why would I want to use RSS?
    In essence, once set up, a RSS reader checks a given web site periodically to see if there is any new content. This saves you from constantly checking back, and it saves the web site owner and facility some network bandwidth because the file that gets checked every X minutes (typically 1/2 hour or so) is much smaller than the whole page would be if you were to go and look yourself. By looking at the RSS reader's list of sites you can quickly tell if something has been added to a site since the last time you visited it.
  • How do I use RSS?
    You select what reader you wish to use - and then add entries to it for each of the web sites and/or web topics that you want to check on. The typical reader looks similar to an email reader - showing "folders" that turn BOLD when new content is available. Simply by looking at the list of folders you can tell if something new has been added to any of the web sites you are following. If one of the entries is bold, clicking on it will open up the list of the most recent pages, and clicking on a page will open up that page, either in the reader's own web viewer (which might not show everything) or in your default browser. Most new browsers are themselves RSS readers too.
  • What is a RSS Feed?
    A RSS feed is a link to a file of information stored in a format called XML (eXtended Markup Language) that is kept up to date by the web site's automation. Each time a new article is posted, or a page is updated, the feed file is updated. Your RSS reader periodically checks the date on the file (a very simple question it can ask of every web server) and if the file is newer than the last time your reader pulled in the file, it again pulls in the new contents of this file - and prepares to show you the pages that have been updated, typically by showing their titles in BOLD

  • What RSS Readers Are Available?
    Most of today's web browsers and email clients have RSS capabilities - check your client's or browser's documentation, or simply click on a RSS feed link and see what happens. The above noted Wikipedia also has a "comparison of RSS Readers" page
  • What RSS Reader is best?
    While we really should not express an opinion, we find that Thunderbird, the open source email client, is one of the easier ones to work with and it is available for any/all major platforms. Once installed, simply add a "Blogs & News Feeds" account using the Account Settings menu item.



Last Updated Tuesday, March 16 2010 @ 05:18 PM EDT| View Printable Version



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