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RSS stands for "really simple syndication" and is a way for subscribers to quickly and automatically receive notifications of announcements and updates to a web site. The RSS service is often called a news aggregator. The information displayed is usually in the form of a short headline, a summary, and a link to the complete text. I have created an example feed you can read with any of the tools provided below.

How to start using feed readers and news aggregators.

  1. Select and install a feed reader. You have several choices depending on your browser, see typical readers in the list of RSS Resources below. If you don't know where to start, try Feedreader.
  2. Visit a site with an RSS feed. See the list of a few of the available RSS feeds provided in the list below. You'll likely get a message stating something like "This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below." This is normal, ignore it.
  3. Depending on how the reader you selected works, either bookmark the page or copy and paste the URL for the page into your feed reader.

Caution: Using RSS feeds requires users to click on links if they want to see anything other than the "headlines". When using RSS feeds the normal precautions should be taken that are required whenever you click on any link when browsing the Web.

RSS Resources

  1. Typical feed readers (free). You don't need them all, choose one.
    1. Feedreader is a standalone application (browser not required)
    2. Internet Explorer 7 supports RSS directly but currently works only on Windows XP SP2. You can download this browser from Microsoft. Pluck is an IE plugin that implements bookmark management and supports RSS. As of January 10, 2008, IE on Vista has not been tested for RSS support, but it is assumed to be available.
    3. Firefox 1.5 browser and newer versions
      • Implements "live" bookmarks that will detect RSS feeds. Look for the icon in the bottom right corner of the browser, and click on it to subscribe. The feeds will appear in your bookmarks list.
      • Feed readers are also available as extensions, see Habari Xenu or Pluck for examples.
    4. Netscape Navigator versions 8 and newer implement RSS. However, official support for this browser family is being discontinued as of February 1, 2008. For information and the current version, see Netscape 9.
    5. Other alternatives
      • You can add RSS feeds to My Yahoo! (see help on adding content)
      • Pluck is a web-based feed reader and bookmark manager that can be synchronized with plug-ins for both Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
    6. Search Google , Yahoo or whatever is your favorite engine for "feed reader", "news aggregator", or "RSS" to find additional resources
  2. Sample RSS news feeds (add or paste these into your feed reader)
    1. News
    2. Science
    3. Wierd and offbeat news items (for what it's worth)
  3. More than you want to know about RSS
    1. Help
      1. What is RSS (Harvard Law)
      2. How to set up an RSS Feed
      3. Making an RSS Feed
    2. RSS tools: how to make your own RSS feed
      1. You can make an RSS feed with any text editor (i.e., Notepad and others)
      2. RSS 0.91 specification (format of KGS sample feed)
      3. RSS 2.0 specification
      4. RSS Channel Editor (create a feed)
      5. RSS Code Generator and info (create a feed)
      6. RSS Feed Validator (check to see if your feed is valid)
    3. Register and publish the feed (let users know about your feed)
      1. Syndic8
      2. NewsIsFree (non-commercial sites)