What is RSS?

February 10th, 2008

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication (among other things). We think of it as the love child of email and bookmarks.

Bookmarks let you save a website address to view later … but do you?

Email shows you what you haven’t read because it’s bold.

RSS does both!

  • Bookmarks the site so you can read it later
  • Shows you when the site has new content

Step by step

When you click on the RSS feed of this, or any site – it looks like this rss-icon-15.png – it will take you to a page like this:


The page is asking you to choose a web-based news reader, also known as an RSS reader or Feed Reader. We use Google reader to keep on top of our RSS feeds. Here are a couple of reviews of web-based RSS readers.

Let’s use Google reader as an example. If you choose a feed reader and it turns out bad, you can easily export your feeds from most readers, and import them into another reader.

Once you subscribe

Okay, so let’s say you clicked “Add to Google”. You’ll get this screen:


Google lets you choose between adding a page to your iGoogle homepage, or adding to Google Reader. Let’s go with Google Reader.

Most feed readers will require you to set up an account, which means you’ll be able to login to your feeds from any web browser.

(If you don’t want to use a web-based reader, there are a few desktop readers available. There’s a list of them at the end of this article.)

If you have an account already with Google, here’s what you’ll see:


You’ll see the latest post of the page you’ve just subscribed to.

You’ll also see on the left hand side, a list of your feeds, and how many new posts there are on each feed. You’re set now. Just don’t forget to bookmark the reader page so you can come back and check your feeds often!

(For more about Google reader, check out these introductory tips or some more advanced advice.)

Find out more about how to subscribe to a podcast, how to subscribe to online video, or how this site works.

Confused? Stuck? Let us know and we’ll help you stay up to date.

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