What’s RSS?

by Debra Eve | @DebraEve

RSS is the new way to receive news and blog posts on your desktop. You don’t have to reveal your email address. If you want to stop receiving content, you don’t have to request to be “taken off the list.”  You can make it disappear with just one click.

That’s why it’s called Really Simply Syndication.

How does it work?

Basically, you sign up and then automatically receive new content in a feed reader.  (If you want to know the technical stuff, click here.)

What’s a feed reader?

You might be using one and not realize it. If you’ve personalized your MSN, Google or Yahoo homepage, you’ve got built-in RSS capabilities. That’s how content like news, weather and stock quotes appears on your personal page. You can also add content from blogs like Later Bloomer.

If you use the Firefox browser, you can receive RSS feeds from your tool bar by using the Live Bookmarks function. Chrome, Internet Explorer 8 and Outlook 7 also have built-in feed readers.

Then there are desktop-based feed readers. These function somewhat like an email program for feeds. Examples include Newsgator and Feed Demon.

How do I subscribe to a Feed?

Most likely you’ll see a heading that reads something like GET UPDATES BY RSS and/or an icon that looks like this:

Click it (go ahead!) and you’ll go to a page that displays an selection of popular feed readers so you can select yours. Just follow the instructions from there.

Sometimes the blog will have a chicklet (the cute name for these buttons) for a particular reader up front.  You may see these (among others):

Add to Google

Again, just click and follow the instructions.

My Preferrred Method

I add feeds to my iGoogle homepage, so I can scan them when I open Google.  When I find a blog I like, I click its RSS icon, choose the Google chicklet and “Add to Google homepage” (not Reader).  Here’s how it looks:

So there you have it. RSS is being adopted at a phenomenal rate, because it’s good for everyone.

The benefit to readers is obvious. And it’s good for writers too, because we want to make sure that people feel comfortable subscribing, and that our message is not nuked by an overzealous spam filter.

If there’s anything here that is confusing, or you have any questions, please contact me at elle.b (at) laterbloomer.com and I’ll be happy to help!

(Acknowledgment: Thanks to Copyblogger for helping with this tutorial.)

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