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by Cindy Dykstra

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) is an XML-based format for content distribution via the Internet. This data format is used for serving users frequently updated content that contains web links to longer versions.

RSS is also called a web feed. "Publishing a feed" and "syndication" are two of the more common terms used to describe making available a feed from an information source, such as an article directory, blog., podcast or website. Feeds are also used to deliver structured information ranging from weather data to search results.

Web feeds have some advantages compared to receiving frequently published content via email:When subscribing to a feed, users do not disclose their email address, so users are not increasing their exposure to threats associated with email: spam, viruses, phishing, and identity theft.

Accessing RSS Web Feeds

XML is not very reader-friendly out of the box. If you click on an RSS feed link, your browser may display a page of unformatted gobbledygook. What you are looking at is the unformatted XML, although most newer browsers have a feed reader built in and will display an RSS file in an easy to read format like a web page.

A website or program that makes a customized collection we feeds available in one spot is known as an aggregator or feed reader. Many of them are free to use and allow you to receive updated content from many sources by logging into one web site or setting up software to run in the background on your computer and notify you when updated content is available.

The user subscribes to a particular web feed, and thereafter receives updated contents, every time updating takes place. When you subscribe to a given website's feed by using a feed reader, you'll receive a summary of new content from that website.

In the typical scenario of using web feeds, a content provider publishes a feed link on their site which end users can register with an aggregator program running on their own machines; doing this is usually as simple as dragging the link from the web browser to the aggregator. This is known as an offline web feed and is downloaded to the user's system.

You can also access RSS web feeds via an on-line aggregator. You create an account, then subscribe to feeds from within the aggregator or by clicking an RSS link on any website that offers web feeds. These feed readers are only available on-online, but keep you from having to download anything to your computer.

In either case, when instructed, the aggregator asks all the servers in its feed list if they have new content; if so, the aggregator either makes a note of the new content or downloads it.

If users want to stop receiving certain content, they do not have to send an "unsubscribe" request; users can simply remove the feed from their aggregator.

RSS web feeds allow users to save time by bringing all their sources of new content to them instead of having to search or visit many sites to get the information.

About the Author

Cindy Dykstra is an editor for http://www.article-directorysite.com where you can find quality RSS feeds on over 350 topics.


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