Our Feeds and How to Use Them
What is an RSS feed?
An RSS feed is a special kind of list of links that Web sites can make available. It is a list that you can subscribe to in various ways. The list is updated as the Web site is updated, and usually only contains the latest information published there. Feeds are formatted in a way that allows computers to read in the information and then display it to you in a variety of useful ways.
Besides the links themselves, each "feed item" in the list usually includes a title, a description, and sometimes even a fully readable article, news story, blog post, etc. You can then often read as much as you want from these items without ever going to the Web sites from which they originated.
Many sites have feeds, and will often display the link to the feed as an "RSS" or "XML" icon, or by the increasingly universal "feed icon" ( ).
How do I read an RSS feed?
If you want to browse and subscribe to feeds, you have many choices. All the latest versions of Web browsers can at least display the current contents of a feed when you access it via a link or bookmark. There are also many applications you can download for free that let you keep track of all your feeds and read them as easily as reading e-mail. These will often let you keep the older content around if you wish, even when the feed itself is updated with new links. In fact, some e-mail programs (or plug-ins to e-mail programs) let you read RSS feeds from within the same, familiar interface you are used to for reading e-mail.
Feeds can also be displayed in many Web pages, such as iGoogle or My Yahoo!. Feeds also make it possible for site content to be packaged into "widgets", "gadgets", mobile devices, and other technologies that make the information in them available just about anywhere.
Generally, Web pages or applications that can display feeds (besides the Web browser itself) will have a place to paste the feed address in order to subscribe. So if you see an RSS link on a page that you would like to add, you would first copy the link by right-clicking on the RSS link and selecting the menu command that copies the link address. Or, if there is a button on the page for adding the feed directly into another Web page (such as Google Reader), you could use that instead.
Here’s a good list of some of the popular (and free!) applications and pages that can display your RSS feeds (Provident doesn’t endorse any of these products or companies, we just want to help get you started with some options):
What else can I do with RSS?
We wouldn’t expect you to set up RSS just to see one site. The power of RSS is more obvious when you start subscribing to lots of sites. Then, instead of looking at 10, 20, or 50 sites every day, you can just check your RSS reader and see what's new on all the sites you normally visit. Quite a time saver. Here are some sites that you may want to subscribe to so you can get started:
TIP: Whenever you search Google News, the search results page will include a link to turn the results into an RSS feed. First you have to click on the "Create Alert" button at the bottom of the news search results, then click "Show Options", then choose "RSS" as the "Deliver To" option (only available when you are signed in to Google). If you then click on the Google icon in the top left corner of the page, you can see all your Google News feeds, and can right-click on the icon of the one you want to open or copy. This can then be used just like any other RSS feed to get the latest news on that subject.