What is RSS?

In the last few years, you may have noticed the acronym ‘RSS’ thrown around in the online world.  But what is it?

Gaining widespread use around 2005/2006, RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, or Rich Site Summary – depending on who you talk to!  Put simply, it gives webmasters the ability to instantly and automatically distribute (or syndicate) their content to subscribers.  RSS is a family of web feed formats that are used to publish regularly updated websites (e.g news or blogs), in a standardised format.

RSS Feeds are viewed by their subscribers in an ‘aggregator’, which can be displayed in either a web-based, desktop-based, or mobile-device-based reader.  Popular readers include Google Reader (web-based), FeedDemon for Windows (desktop-based), and NewsGator Go! (mobile-device-based).

I won’t get into the ‘how’ of setting up RSS Feeds, as that’s just a little too technical for me!  But what I will tell you is that RSS Feeds are fantastic for your end users.  RSS gives people the ability to quickly and easily access the latest news and information from their favourite sites – without the worry of having to visit each site individually.  For users, it’s almost like signing up from an e-newsletter without having to release their personal information and without their email inbox becoming cluttered with junk.

In summary, RSS isn’t suitable for all websites – but is recommended for those webmasters out there who have a well-maintained blog, or a News section that has regularly updated content – as it gves users a quick and easy way to get your important updates.

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