What is RSS?

(If you already know RSS, here’s my feed.)

Nearly every blog has a feature called syndication. This is a way to to easily subscribe to a site. It works like this: the site exposes a feed, which is a simple text file that contains the latest content in a form that a newsreader app can understand. Your newsreader then periodically checks the feed and shows updates of all sites that you follow in reverse-chronological order.

The technology to make this work is called RSS (Really Simple Syndication), and thus these feeds are often called RSS feeds. There’s also another very similar format called Atom. Virtually all newsreaders work equally with both.

But why?

Basically, RSS is like your Facebook feed, but instead of an algorithm deciding what to show you, you choose what to subscribe too yourself. That means it is fully in your control: no ads, no data mining. It’s a bit like an email newsletter, but without giving your email to some American company for them to sell to spammers.

Cool, how do I get started?

To subscribe to an RSS feed, you use a newsreader app. There’s lots of choices out there.

RSS itself is free, but some apps provide additional features in a paid subscription. Most of these apps also allow you to sync your subscriptions between devices, but limit the amount of subscriptions you can have.

But how do I use RSS?

Most sites that offer an RSS will probably have a link saying “RSS/Atom” or an orage icon similar to this: somewhere on the page. If they do, you can subscribe to them.

Subscribing is dead simple to do: you subscribe to someone by entering the URL to their blog, website, channel, profile, whatever into your RSS reader app.

Then, the app will check the feed for updates every few hours, and show the posts in reverse-chronological order. Some apps also provide other filters for showing the content, but whatever you choose, it’s always under your control.

Where can I find feeds to subscribe to?

The best way to discover blogs to follow is by simply browsing the web. Not with a search engine, but by following links from site to site. There’s tons of interesting stuff out there. Often, blogs have a blogroll: a list of blogs that they like.

Here are some starting points:

In addition to most blogs, lots of other sites also offer RSS feeds. Forexample, every YouTube channel has an RSS feed (try it: simply enter the channel URL in your RSS reader!). And most news sites (like NOS) offer RSS feeds too, as do weather forecasts. Additionally, RSS is often used for podcasts too.

But I really ♡ email

You can subscribe to my blog via email too. But trust me, RSS is good stuff. Anyway, here ya go: