What the Heck is "RSS"?

What is RSS?

If you've been wondering what those little orange "XML/RSS" buttons are that have been popping up on web sites... Well... you're not alone!

Here is what they're all about...

The Word "RSS" Has Two Meanings...

Definition of RSS

 * "Really Simple Syndication" or "Really Simple Subscription"... It just depends on if you are the publisher of the information or the consumer of the information.


"Syndication" in this use means the redistribution of material by a publisher to many outlets. So for a publisher who is looking at getting his material out by RSS it's... "Really Simple Syndication." 


But what RSS means to you... Someone who wants information RSS stands for... "Really Simple Subscribing." Just like you subscribe to a newspaper and it comes to you  from a paper carrier... you can "subscribe" to a web site's RSS feed.

It's Also Called a "Web Feed"...

The beauty of an RSS or web feed is that you can keep up-to-date on web sites that have RSS without having to go to the web site itself and try to figure out if there is new stuff!

So... What Exactly Is an RSS/Web Feed?

It is the format that information from different Web sites comes to you. Think of it as though you are getting "fed" the information that you specifically  want from the Web. One of the beauties of RSS is that you  are the one that decides what information comes to you and when. It's not like most social media sites where you are inundated with a lot of news that you may not want!

Web feeds/RSS feeds are programmed using a computer "language" called "XML" which stands for eXtensible Markup Language. It's similar to a web page, which is programmed using "HTML" (HyperText Markup Language). Your RSS Feed Reader (see below) will use the website's XML file to gather the newest information from that website and bring it to you whenever you want it!

RSS feed button

 * When you see this little icon on a web page that means the site offers a web feed. This icon also  indicates that there is a web feed available for you to subscribe to.

Finding An RSS Reader...

RSS reader software

Well, first you need a program that can "read" the XML file that contains the feed.

There are two ways you can do this:

  • You can use a free RSS feed reader that you download onto your computer (you install the feed reader software on your computer)... OR
  • You can set up a feed reader that works through your web browser or webmail and subscribe to feeds that way.  As the method for setting these up changes from time to time it's best to look on the web as to how the current set up is achieved. The information is usually easy to find via a search engine.

If you want to download and use your feed reader on your computer (which I prefer), try these free readers (but a course there are a ton more on the web that you can download if you don't like these):

RssReader (Windows )

Click Here!

 NetNewsWire (Mac)

Click Here!

Once You've Have Your RSS Set up... Here's How You Subscribe to a Particular Feed...

describe to RSS reader

Once you've got a reader set up, you can start subscribing to web feeds from sites that offer them. You subscribe by...

  • Right-clicking and hold down (control-click for Mac users) on any orange RSS button on a site, blog or news source that interests you... 

  • Then, while holding down the mouse button...
  • Select "Copy Shortcut" from the menu that pops up ("Copy Link to Clipboard" for Mac, "Copy" or Copy Link Location" for Chrome, Firefox or other browsers)
  • Of course... on this site (VideoEditingSage.com) just find the RSS box in the right column and click on the "Subscribe" button and you'll see the URL (in the address bar at the top of the XML page that comes up) that you need to copy! Just highlight the URL and copy it!
  • Paste that URL into your RSS Reader.

And that's it! You're subscribed...!!!

  • Note that each reader will have instructions on how to add a subscription... this method is just the basic  way.
  • Some web sites offer buttons that allow you to quickly add the feed to whatever RSS reader you have installed.

If you use any of the readers listed above... All you have to do is click on the button for the reader you use and you'll be instantly subscribed to that site's feed!

The Benefits of Subscribing to RSS/Web Feeds...

Web feeds have some advantages compared to receiving frequently published content via email:

  • When subscribing to a feed, users do not disclose their email address, so users are not increasing their exposure to threats associated with email: spam, viruses, phishing, and identity theft.
  • If users want to stop receiving news, they do not have to send an "unsubscribe" request; users can simply remove the feed from their feed reader.
  • The feed items are automatically "sorted" in the sense that each feed URL has its own sets of entries (unlike an email box, where all emails are in one big pile and email programs have to resort to complicated rules and pattern matching).

You now have a cool new time-saving tool...!

Have fun with it...

Have fun...!  Dan (Editor)

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