10/04/2008

What is RSS? from Writers Weeekly.com

What is RSS?

Page for Feed Validation: http://feedvalidator.org/

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. In essence, it is format for a special file on a Web site that has all the latest updates to the site in it. The URL to that file is know as an RSS Feed.

By using a special piece of software called a Feed Reader, you can monitor this file and get notified instantly when a new information gets added to the site.

You may be thinking, "You already send me an email every Wednesday with all your new stuff. Why would I want to use an RSS feed?" Well, we are advocating that you unsubscribe from the newsletter and switch to the RSS feed. There are three good reasons to do this:

1.) The Rise of Spam and Spam Filters - There is so much spam out there now that everyone is using spam filters to try and curb to tide of junk mail. These filters are basically a set of complex rules against which computers compare each incoming email. Because it is ultimately a computerized system, and spammers are devising more and more sophisticated ways to beat these systems, lots of legitimate email gets caught. WritersWeekly.com went from literally zero complaints a few years ago to about 50 complaints a week now from subscribers to our newsletter who can no longer receive it. And when we traced the problem back, 100% of the time is it because our newsletter is getting mislabeled as spam. There seems to be no solution to the spam filter problem other than to communicate with these subscribers in a way that doesn't involve email.

2.) RSS is Instant - Your Feed Reader software monitors the RSS feeds you specify silently in the background. When we update the site, the RSS feed is instantaneously updated as well. That means your Feed Reader software knows about it instantly too and can alert you. No more having to check your email or the Web site for the latest information.

3.) Information in RSS Format is Compact - Since we only send a link and summary of each piece of new information through the RSS feed, you can just access just the information you are interested in. It is a lot faster than opening your Web browser or email program and wading through all the extraneous stuff.

4.) Unsubscribe With Ease - Don't want to subscribe anymore? Or want to stop things temporarily? Delete the feed from your Feed Reader and it is gone. No messages piling up while you are on vacation. No more complicated email commands to get off a list.

How Do I Get a Feed Reader?

There are lots of different Feed Readers, most of them free. Here are some we recommend:

For Windows - FeedReader

For Mac - NetNewsWireLite (scroll to bottom to get the free version)

For Linux - Liferea

Web-based Reader - Bloglines (This is a Web site that you register with to read the feeds. Works with any operating system. Registration is free.)

You can also read feeds through MyYahoo. Log in, then click on "add content" at the bottom of the page, then click on "Add RSS by URL" next to the "find" button. Then enter this URL: http://www.writersweekly.com/index.xml

If you like to explore new software, here is a comprehensive list of Feed Readers for Windows and Mac.

Where Can I Get RSS Feeds from Other Sites?

We're developing a comprehesive list of feeds, but for now we recommend these places to find new feeds:

http://www.rootblog.com/

http://www.2rss.com/

http://www.feedster.com/

http://www.technorati.com/

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