What is RSS and is it still the best way of following news online?

In order to stay up to date with your industry news, or in order to know when your favorite website has posted something new, you need to follow them. One proven way of following websites is using RSS Feeds.

What Is RSS?

It stands for Really Simple Syndication. It refers to files easily read by a computer called XML files that automatically update information. The information is fetched by a user’s RSS feed reader that converts the files into the latest updates from websites in an easy to read format. It feeds you headlines, summaries, update notices, and links back to articles on your favorite website’s page.

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This content is distributed in real-time so that the top results on the RSS feed are always the latest published content for a website. The RSS Feed allows you to create your own customized feed of the most up-to-date content for the topics and websites you are interested about

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How does it work?

The website owner creates a text file with the XML file extension for the RSS feed that contains the title, description, and link for each post on the site. Then, the website owner uses this XML file to add an RSS feed to web pages on the site. The XML file automatically syndicates new content through this RSS feed in a standard format that displays in any RSS reader.

When website visitors subscribe to feeds, they read the new website content using an RSS reader. These readers collect content from multiple XML files, organize the information, and display the content in one application.

There are many examples of such readers available. For example, Feedly, the old reader, Flipboard, and feed reader, among others. These readers enable you to do many things. Among which are:

  • Follow discussions on web pages and in forums without visiting each page to read the list of posted comments.
  • Keep up-to-date on the content from your favorite bloggers.
  • Stay current with local, national, and international news from several sources.

Are they still relevant?

The short answer is yes. RSS feeds still exist and many people still use them. I too use them. However, they aren’t as dominant as they once were. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others have become the go-to option for following sites, watching feeds, and learning about the latest content. Other online options like Google News just aggregate full links to the latest stories, with algorithms to pick out stories you may like.