RSS feed

OK I know I’m a tard for not knowing what this is, but can someone give me a simple explanation of what RSS news is?


An RSS feed is a file (in an XML format) which lists the latest headlines from a given website in reverse-chronological order. You can use an RSS reader (either a standalone app, or a browser plugin, or a hosted app like Google Reader) to subscribe to these feeds. The RSS reader will download them every few minutes and show you any new stories which appear on your subscribed sites.

Additionally, other websites use RSS feeds to syndicate content from one another. For example, I have a cronjob that I maintain for my employer which downloads a dozen RSS feeds every hour and sticks the headlines and links into a database. We use this for sites that we have content syndication agreements with.

ETA: As an example, here is the RSS feed for the GQ forum right here at the Dope.

RSS feeds can be accessed through some email services, such as WLM. I get MSN news feeds in WLM automatically (when I select the update feeds on the menu) since WLM is a MS application.

I use Google Readerto track RSS feeds. Just right click on the RSS link on the desired page, se;ect ‘Copy Shortcut’ then click the ‘Add Subscription’ button in Google Reader, past the shortcut, and click the ‘Add’ button. All of your feeds will be listed on one page.

Thanks guys. It looks like RSS isn’t something I would need since I kind of avoid looking at the news. Now, if I could just figure out how to delete it from my mailbox…

Is there any way to change how many headlines are displayed?

It depends on the RSS feed itself (i.e. how many the news source chooses to provide) and possibly also your RSS reader (if it lets you choose how many to display from each feed).

Failing that, you could scrape the actual website and make your own feed (hard) or use something like Yahoo Pipes to aggregate and/or customize them (medium-hard).

RSS is not only from news web sites. Entertainment, science, and many other web sites have RSS feeds.

So if I sign up for it, I get emails that they have updated something?

Depends on how you do it. I use Google Reader, and don’t get any e-mails. I go to to check my feeds.

If you opt for email alerts on the RSS feeds, you will get updates to the web site, such as recent medical news, astronomy alerts, etc.

My favorite use for RSS feeds (and their newer brethren) is the Live Bookmarks feature of Firefox. I click a button, and I see all my Facebook updates or Emails.

I actually was surprised that no other browser has implemented them. It seems most people prefer the dedicated readers. For me, that’s too many clicks, and jumbles everything together.

When I look at the RSS feed for SDMB through the Live Bookmarks feature of Firefox, the posts often don’t show up for more than an hour after they’re posted to the message board. Is that typical?