What The Heck Is RSS And How Does It Work?

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I had no idea what an RSS feed was a couple of months ago, but you can learn quick.

But why should I care?

Good question. First, here’s why you should care. Unlike getting website updates or ezines by email, RSS feeds give you absolute, 100% complete control over the situation.

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.”

One click, and poof… the subscription is gone.

Plus, since there’s no email address involved, there’s no way a publisher can sell, rent or give away the means to contact you.

That’s right… no more spam, viruses, phishing, or identity theft. And best of all, no reason to put yourself at the mercy of the publisher’s intentions.

You won’t need to suffer through the legalese in the privacy policy (if there is one) looking for loopholes that will send you deeper into inbox hell. No more setting up dummy Hotmail accounts “just in case.”

Again, if you don’t like the content, you can make it disappear as fast as you can change a TV channel. With just one click. Pretty cool, huh?

That is cool! Umm… So what the heck is RSS?

Alright! Now we’re ready to get to that part.

RSS is simply an Internet technology standard that allows busy people to receive updates to web-based content of interest. As you surf around the internet you may find there’s lots of useful blogs and information that you would like to follow. So if you’re anything like me you have a long list of bookmarks. Which is all well and good, but you have to keep checking back to each blog checking for updates and that’s very time consuming.

That’s where ‘Subscribing to a Feed’ comes in. When you subscribe to a feed you are sent the posts every time the blog is updated, whether you choose email or feed readers. But the main point is, it keeps everything in the one place so it’s easy to track what the different blogs that you are interested in are doing. You can be reading any amount of blogs through their feeds and every time the blogs are posted to, they are updated in your feed reader. And that cuts out all the surfing around checking the blogs individually, a great time saver.

You might have figured that much out by now. But basically, that’s the essence of an RSS feed – you subscribe and then receive new content automatically in your feed reader.

If you actually want to know how RSS works, click here.

What the heck is a feed reader?

You may already be using a form of feed reader, and not even realize it. If you use personalized home page services like My Yahoo or My MSN, you’ve got RSS capabilities built in. That’s how syndicated content like news, weather and stock quotes appears on your personal page. You can also add content from any blog or other site that uses RSS to provide updates.

Other web-based tools are primarily dedicated to feed reading only. Some of the most popular web-based feed readers at this point are Bloglines, Google and Yahoo amongst others and they are free and easy to get started with.

If you use the Firefox browser, you can also receive RSS feeds from your tool bar by using the Live Bookmarks function. The next version of Internet Explorer will add this feature as well.

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

If it sounds complicated, it’s really not.

So how do I Subscribe to a Feed?

First of all, look for the subscription or feed options

If the site you want to subscribe to uses FeedBurner to aid in the subscription process (like The Photographer Blog and many other popular sites), you’ll likely see the standard RSS icon, which takes you to a page that will give you an array of the most popular feed readers so you can select yours, and you’ll go from there. For instance I use the Google feed reader. This is the standard RSS icon:


RSS Icon

In summary: RSS solves BIG problems.

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

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

100% “NO-SPAM” Guarantee

But if you do prefer to have your blog updates sent to you via email then you can have the convenience of your fresh Photographer Blog content being sent straight to your email inbox.

A service called Feedburner handles all my RSS feed and email updates and it is 100% safe and spam free! Myself or Feedburner will never share, trade, sell, deliver, reveal, publicize, or market your email address in any way, shape, or form. Period. You will receive a confirmation email with an activation link that you will need to click and that’s it. Whenever the blog you are following has new content, you will find the posts from your feed in your inbox. Click Here to Subscribe to The Photographer Blog by Email

It’s just up to you and which type of subscription you prefer?

If there’s anything here that is confusing, or you have a question, please leave a comment or email me and I’ll be happy to help!

“Thanks to Copyblogger for a helping hand with this RSS mini-tutorial.”



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