You may have heard of an RSS feed in passing, but what does it do? Internet users add unimaginable amounts of data to the web every day and keeping up with all of the information can be difficult. Some people will keep up by using social media, Google, and visiting certain sites every day. The RSS feed is an old school, algorithm free, streamlined tool that makes finding what you want to read online much easier.

What even is RSS??

RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’, a standardized system for the distribution of content from an online publisher to internet users’. RSS feeds started as text files with basic information like news articles. This information is then fed into a ‘feeder reader’ that converts the RSS files into a listing of the most recent updates on the web. RSS feeds adapted and became compatible with images, videos, and other content as the Internet got more complex. The feed readers will update automatically, delivering the new information right to your device. This process enables users to create news feeds filled with information that they actually want to see. Eliminating the process of hunting through a lot of noise to find the content you are interested in.

Old News?

RSS feeds do not have the dominance they once had. Social media has grown to be the dominant force on keeping up with ongoing events. Facebook, Twitter, and other sites allow users to follow whatever interests them with ease. As a result, RSS feed interests has gone down in recent years. Businesses with an online presence favor social media posts and are not converting their content to RSS files. This is why lots of blogs, news sites, and other online information sources will offer subscriptions or direct you to their social media accounts to get the latest updates.

Can I benefit from an RSS feed?

RSS feeds allow users to get an in-depth look at what information is on the site, not just the click-worthy information that is shared on social media. They provide a way to get up to date information without having to sift through the noise of social media. Well established feeds will also allow users to stay informed when they are offline. The future of RSS feeds looks to be applied to specific services. Sites like Reddit, YouTube, or provide weather information or podcasts offer features that are similar to RSS feeds. As their applications become more specific, RSS feeds may lose browser support. In 2018, Mozilla Firefox announced it would be ending RSS support. Other web browsers could follow suit. Lastly, if you want to try out an RSS feed, Flipboard, Feedreader, and Feedly are all popular services.

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