What are RSS Feeds?
RSS feeds let you to see when websites have put up any new content. You can get the latest information, the moment its live, without having to go and visit the websites you have taken the feed from.
There is some debate as to what RSS stands for, but its commonly understood as being 'Really Simple Syndication'. In reality, the feeds are really just web pages, designed to be read by computers rather than people.
Advantages of RSS Feeds?
Allows users to generate up-to-date news and postings, as information and content in the RSS readers/news aggregators are automatically updated each time the RSS feed is 'refreshed'.
Allows users to have control over the information that they wish to view or receive, as they can remove a feed (unsubscribe) of their choosing any time they want to.
More secure than e-mails, because no malicious content can be inserted into the feed.
RSS does the work for you. So rather than searching for the content you require–The content comes to you!
How do I start using feeds?
To start with what you need is something called an RSS reader or news aggregator. This is software that searches the feeds and lets you read any new articles that have been added. There are many different versions, some of which are accessed using a browser, and some of which are downloadable applications.
Browser-based RSS readers/news aggregators allow you to get your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, as apposed to downloadable applications which let you store them on your main computer, in a similar way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.
Once you have picked a RSS reader/news aggregator, you then have to decide what content you want it to receive.
If you click on the RSS button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your RSS reader/news aggregator or by copying and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your RSS reader/news aggregator. Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link. Also, you may unsubscribe from the feed by removing it from your RSS reader/aggregator, so that you no longer receive the RSS feed.
Feeds can also be updated automatically so there is no need to keep refreshing the content manually. A feed will normally have a default refresh time, but most feed readers will allow you to select a refresh time upon subscription.
Some browsers, including Firefox, Opera and Safari, automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a website, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check their websites.