RSS feeds are a way for websites large and small to distribute their content well beyond just visitors using browsers. Feeds permit subscription to regular updates, delivered automatically via a web portal, news reader, or in some cases good old email. RSS feeds also make it possible for site content to be packaged into "widgets," "gadgets," mobile devices, and other bite-sized technologies that make it possible to display blogs, podcasts, and major news/sports/weather/whatever headlines just about anywhere.
2. What does this symbol mean?
You may recognize this universal feed icon from your favorite websites, blogs, and podcasts. These icons represent content in any format - text, audio or video - to which you can subscribe and read/watch/listen using a feed reader.
3. Why is RSS a good thing?
Technology evolution in online publishing has made it really easy to not only publish regular updates to web-based content, but also keep track of a large number of your favorite websites or blogs, without having to remember to check each site manually or clutter your email inbox. You can now streamline your online experience by subscribing to specific RSS feeds and aggregating this information in one place to be read when you're ready.
* Consumer Bottom Line:
Subscribing to feeds makes it possible to review a large amount of online content in a very short time.
* Publisher Bottom Line:
Feeds permit instant distribution of content and the ability to make it "subscribable."
* Advertiser Bottom Line:
Advertising in feeds overcomes many of the shortcomings that traditional marketing channels encounter including spam filters, delayed distribution, search engine rankings, and general inbox noise.
4. Who publishes feeds?
Most of the biggest names on the web offer content feeds including ProCon.org, USATODAY.com, BBC News Headlines, ABCNews, CNET, Yahoo!, Amazon.com, and many more. In addition, hundreds of thousands of bloggers, podcasters, and videobloggers publish feeds to keep themselves better connected to their readers, listeners, admirers, and critics.
5. How do I read feeds?
If you want to browse and subscribe to feeds, you have many choices. Today, there are more than 2,000 different feed reading applications, also known as "news aggregators" (for text, mostly) or "podcatchers" (for podcasts). There are even readers that work exclusively on mobile devices.
Some require a small purchase price but are tops for ease-of-use and ship with dozens of feeds pre-loaded so you can explore the feed "universe" right away. Free readers are available as well; a search for "Feed reader" or "Feed aggregator" at popular search sites will yield many results.
A typical interface for a feed reader will display your feeds and the number of new (unread) entries within each of those feeds. You can also organize your feeds into categories and even clip and save your favorite entries (with certain applications).
If you prefer, you can use an online, web-based service to track and manage feeds. Online services give you the advantage of being able to access your feed updates anywhere you can find a web browser. Also, upgrades and new features are added automatically.
6. OK, so how do I get started?
Three simple steps:
a. Click on the RSS icon at ProCon.org
b. Select your preferred reader (if you’re unsure click "view XML”)
c. Click "Subscribe”
You’re done. The RSS feed will now display in your preferred format. If you selected "view XML” then your RSS feed will display as a bookmark. In Internet Explorer and Firefox, select ProCon.org RSS from your Bookmarks area to see the latest content.
Source: Google.com "Feedburner Help Center: Feed 101” (accessed online June 4, 2008) and amended by ProCon.org