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What is an RSS Feed?


We all have busy lives with very little time. Web surfing is fun but can take hours going to visit every single website and blog you enjoy. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just get all the headlines of the most current stories from all your favorite websites and blogs in one place?

Well now you can, and it is called RSS feed.

The technical acronym for RSS is Really Simple Syndication, an XML format that was created to syndicate news and share content on the web. RSS is a technology that is being used by millions of web users around the world to keep track of their favorite websites.

Suppose you have 50 sites and blogs that you like to visit regularly. Going to visit each website and blog everyday could take you hours. With RSS, you can “subscribe” to a website or blog, and get “fed” all the new headlines from all of these 50 sites and blogs in one list, and see what’s going on in minutes instead of hours.

That one place where your RSS list is created is called an RSS Reader, and it gathers all the headlines from all the websites and blogs you have subscribed to.

Subscribing to RSS feeds

But first, to “subscribe” to a website or blog’s RSS feed simply means that you are telling that website or blog, “Yes please. Send me your story headlines.” It’s like subscribing to a magazine or newsletter. Instead of getting a magazine or email, you will just get a list of headlines sent to your RSS reader. If the headline looks interesting to you, all you have to do is click on the headline and you’ll be sent to the whole story.

In order to subscribe to a website or blog’s RSS, all you have to do is click on an RSS symbol like one of those shown in the diagram above, or a text link of the words “Subscribe to our RSS feed” on the website or blog. Typically, you can find these RSS symbols or text links in your browser window, on the sides of the website page, or on the bottom of the page. The publishers of the websites and blogs really want people to subscribe to their RSS, so they will make it very easy for you to find the subscription links.

RSS Readers

To subscribe to RSS feeds you need to get an RSS Reader. There are many RSS Readers that you can use. One of the most popular is Google Reader. Do a search for “RSS Reader” and figure out which one might work best for you.

Subscribe to Peter’s RSS Feed

Once you have an RSS Reader you can subscribe to the RSS Feed for Peter’s blog and others to save you time.

This Sounds Way Too Complicated For Me

If all of this talk about feeds and RSS sounds too complicated, then forget about it. RSS isn’t for everyone. Just come back to Peter’s Blog like you always do. You won’t miss a thing.

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Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Peter Holmes, BA, MDiv, DMin is the Minister of the Congregation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

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