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What is RSS

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a web feed format used to publish regularly updated content such as News, Blogs, Articles, Audio/Video, etc. Many websites provide RSS feeds to their viewers as a way for them to stay updated on newly added content. An RSS feed is made up of a standardized XML-formatted file which is updated each time new content is added to the website. This allows the user to use a RSS Reader to view the content feeds of selected websites in one place, without having to visit each website individually. The RSS reader will allow you to 'subscribe' to the website feeds of your choice, and will provide you with an interface to view and monitor the feeds, downloading new content when it becomes available. You may often see the RSS icon () on various websites. This icon is an indicator that the website provides an RSS feed which you can then subscribe to.

History of RSS

The very first version of RSS was created by Netscape for use on the My.Netscape.Com web portal. At first, this version of RSS was known as RDF Site Summary because of the fact it used a data format known as RDF(Resource Description Framework). It was later renamed Rich Site Summary in version 0.91 and had RDF elements removed. Netscape later stopped development and use of RSS around April 2001. In September of 2002, RSS 2.0 was released by the RSS-DEV Working Group. RSS was then renamed as Really Simple Syndication. This version incorporated backward-compatibility with RSS 0.92. Because of the fact Netscape had no involvement in the development of this version, they could not legally make an official claim on the RSS name or format. This started a controversy as to which entity was the proper publisher of RSS. Between 2005-2006, RSS gained major popularity and was being used by many websites and users. It was then that the official RSS icon was decided upon by major web browsers. There are now millions of websites that provide RSS feeds to their users and it is now very common practice to do so.

How to use RSS

Now that you know what RSS is, you may be wondering how exactly you can subscribe to and view RSS content. The easiest way is to just use your web browser. Both Mozilla Firefox and Internet explorer have an RSS reader built-in. The first thing you need to do is find a website that offers a feed. Typically, news sites and blogs will have this feature. Look for the RSS icon [] on the web page. Simply click this icon and you will see what the feed looks like. If you are using Internet Explorer, there will be a Subscribe Button that you can press, which will then automatically add the feed to your Favorite Center and to a Common Feed List which is shared with other programs. You can then go to your Favorites and click the Feeds tab, this is where your list of feeds will be. Simply click the feed you wish to view and it will load for you. Subscribing to a feed in Mozilla Firefox is very similar. After you press the RSS icon, you will be taken to a page that will view the feed. At the top of this page, there is an option to save it to Live Bookmarks or to Choose Application. If you just want to use Firefox to view the feeds, simply leave this as it is and click the 'Subscribe Now' button. You will then have the option to save it to your Bookmark Menu or your Bookmark Tool Bar, choose the option you want and click Subscribe. You can now view your feeds any time you want.

Use Google / MSN / Yahoo RSS Readers

An alternative to using your web browser's default RSS reader is to use a free website-based reader provided by Google, MSN or Yahoo. These readers are more sophisticated then your browser's default reader, and will provide you with an interface for organizing and viewing your subscribed feeds. On this website you will notice that our list of RSS feeds contain icons for Google [], Yahoo [], MSN [], as well as the default RSS icon [] If you would like to use one of these services for adding/viewing RSS feeds, simply click the icon of the service you wish to use and you will be redirected to the appropriate website. From there you will be provided with instructions on how to use that particular service.


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