1. Computing & Technology
About.com presents: RSS Explained
What is RSS?

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication", and is a protocol that websites use to distribute their content. Websites that use RSS create special files, called "feeds", that are updated periodically to contain the site's latest information.

What is RSS used for?

Using RSS feeds is an easy, efficient way to keep track of when a site adds new content. Instead of checking Site A, Site B, and Site C every day to see if there's anything new, you can subscribe to each site's RSS feed and will be instantly notified by your RSS Reader when new content is added.

What is an RSS Reader?

An RSS Reader is an application you use to view RSS feeds. Similar to how an email application can gather messages from multiple email accounts, an RSS Reader gathers feeds from multiple sites so you can view them in one location.

There are two types of RSS Readers: Web Readers and Desktop Readers. The difference between the two is fairly minimal. The main advantage of Web Readers is that they store all of your subscribed feeds on the internet, so you can access them on any computer. On the other hand, Desktop Readers download subscribed feeds to your hard drive, so you can view them even if you don't have an internet connection.

Where can I get an RSS Reader?

FeedDemon (Windows) and NewsFire (Mac) are popular readers that are available for free. Our Experts have written plenty about other readers if you would like more options.

Once you select an RSS Reader, you can start subscribing to site feeds.

How do I subscribe to a site's feed?

If a feed exists for a site, many modern browsers will display an RSS icon (RSS icon) in the right corner of the location bar. Also, most sites display an RSS icon somewhere on the page. Clicking on either of these icons will allow you to subscribe to the site's feed.

If you scroll to the bottom of any About.com site homepage and look to the right, you will see our RSS icon. Clicking on this icon will take you to a page with links to four different feeds. Each About.com site offers RSS feeds for the site's latest headlines, hottest articles, and most popular articles. In addition, you can also subscribe to About Today, which is a daily-updated feed of interesting articles from the entire About.com network. If you use My Yahoo! or My AOL, there are special links that will add the selected feed directly to your Reader. Otherwise, click on the "RSS" link. Depending on which browser you use, you will either be prompted to add the feed to your default RSS Reader or you will have to copy the URL and enter it manually into your RSS Reader.

Where can I get more information?

Many About.com Experts have written articles about RSS. Here are two of the best:

If you would like more information about RSS from a developer's or blogger's point of view, check out these articles:

For more information visit About.com search results for 'What is RSS?'.

RSS Terms of Use

RSS is provided by About.com as a way to stay up-to-date with headlines and summaries in XML format ("RSS Content") on niche topics that users are interested in following. In addition to the general About.com User Agreement, these Terms of Use specifically govern the use of all RSS services provided by About.com. These Terms of Use and may be changed by About.com at any time without notice. RSS services may be discontinued by About.com without notice at any time.

Use of RSS Feeds:
RSS is offered by About.com for non-commercial use. Any other uses, including without limitation to the placement of advertising associated with or targeted towards the RSS Content, are strictly prohibited. You must use the RSS feeds as provided by About.com, and you may not edit or modify the text, content or links supplied within the feeds.
Link to Content Pages:
The RSS service may be used only with those platforms from which a functional link is made available that, when accessed, takes the viewer directly to the display of the full article on the About.com Site. You may not display the RSS Content in a manner that does not permit successful linking to without encumbrance to the intended About.com content.
Use of Images:
Images referenced in About.com's RSS may only be used as part of that specific feed for the intended purpose of featuring and linking to without encumbrance to the intended About.com content. No other rights to use or reuse referenced images are expressed or implied.
About.com and its Experts retain all rights to the RSS Content. You must provide attribution to the appropriate About.com site and author as identified within the feed when displaying or using About.com RSS.

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