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RSS feeds

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Really Simple Syndication!




What Is an RSS Feed?


What is an RSS feed?

In most cases, RSS stands for "Really Simple Sindication." Other acronyms for "RSS" refer to different formats of the term. For example, "Really Simple

Syndication" refers to RSS 2.0, while "Rich Site Summary" and "RDF Site Summary" refer to RSS 0.91 and RSS 1.0 respectively.


RSS feeds are a way to manage and personalize your news content and news related sites. "RSS is a method of distributing links to

content in your web site that you'd like others to use. In other words, it's a mechanism to 'syndicate' your content" (Making an RSS Feed). RSS feeds

are often used to publish things such as blog entries, podcasts, and news entries. These documents are called "feeds" or "channels."


RSS feeds are read using RSS readers (also called "feed readers") or through an aggregator. Users subscribe to a feed by simply clicking the

RSS icon () in a web browser. The RSS reader the user has will automatically download updates and check feeds for new content.


If you publish a web page about a topic which you think others should know about, you can add the page as an "item" (pages you

want others to link to) in your RSS file.  By adding the page as an item, others can find this information using RSS readers and add links

to your content through their web pages.


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History of RSS Feeds


A brief history of the RSS formats.

The first version of RSS (version 0.9) was refered to as RDF Site Summary and was created in March 1999 by Ramanathan V. Guha at Netscape.

This type of RSS was for the use on the "My.Netscape.Com" portal. Later that year, Dan Libby of Netscape produced RSS 0.91, which removed

the RDF elements and incorporated the scriptingNews syndication format. At this time "RDF Site Summary" was renamed to "Rich Site Summary."

At this time two new groups took over the development of the RSS feeds: The RSS-DEV Working Group and UserLand Software (two software companies).


In December 2000, UserLand Software released a new version of RSS: 0.92. This allowed the introduction of the enclosure element, which allows audio files

to be carried in RSS feeds (this helped spark the popularity of podcasting on the web). In 2002, the same company released an even newer version of

RSS feeds, RSS 2.0. The initials were redubbed to stand for "Really Simple Syndication." The popular feed icon as seen above became industry standard in

December 2005 when the Microsoft Internet Explorer and Outlook teams adopted the symbol. It was originally used in the popular internet browser Mozilla



There is some controversy over the ownership of RSS because "neither Winer [of UserLand Software] nor the RSS-DEV Working Group had Netscape's

involvement, they could not make an official claim on the RSS name or format. This has fueled ongoing controversy in the syndication development community

as to which entity was the proper publisher of RSS" (RSS Feeds at Wikipedia.Com).


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How RSS Feeds Work


How do RSS feeds work?

RSS feeds are essentially text files that can be submitted to "feed directories." From there, subscribers are able to see content within a short time after it is updated. 


This content can be viewed through previously mentioned feed readers. (Some good feed readers can be found below.) These aggregators are simple ways to view many

feeds / subscriptions at once via one interface.


Every RSS feed is complied from "items." Each file will have to include at least one item. These items are usually web pages that you would like

other people to link to.


To enter an item into an RSS file,  the key information needed is:


  • Title
  • Description
  • Link


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RSS Readers


Here is a short list of some examples of good RSS feed readers out on the web.

There are more that can be easily found through a simple web search!





  1. RSS Feeds at InfoPlease; http://www.infoplease.com/rss/
  2. What is RSS at XML.Com; http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2002/12/18/dive-into-xml.html
  3. Making an RSS Feed; http://searchenginewatch.com/showPage.html?page=2175271
  4. RSS at Wikipedia.Com; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rss_feeds
  5. RSS Feeds at About.Com; http://websearch.about.com/od/rsssocialbookmarks/f/rss.htm



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