Really Simple ‘Splanation for RSS

Although I’ve been blogging for a couple of years, I’ve just started to use an RSS reader (or aggregator, as it is also called) to get feeds of blogs I like.

I was initially confused as to what an RSS was. Lokes tried explaining it to me but they sounded, in the end, like newsletters. To a geek wannabe like myself, the difference between subscribing to an RSS feed and a daily digest was a little unclear.

Until I started subscribing to my own RSS feed.

The most significant use of RSS, to a casual blogger such as me, is that I don’t have to build a newsletter anymore if I wanted to tell people I’ve updated my blog (provided they’ve got an RSS reader and subscribed to me). I used to have to send my friends and family members an email each time I updated my blog or my daughters’.

These days, some of them subscribe to my feeds. I still need to send that email, but it becomes less and less necessary as time goes by because in that email, I explain to them how to use an RSS reader and subscribe to my blogs and even news feeds of their choice). So as an avid surfer, I now have a more efficient way of reading the sites I like. Before, I only went two posts/pages deep on average on any blog or site, and I never visited more than five places at once. These days, I read almost all of the 59 feeds I am subscribed to, as they are updated.

So the next question would be, where is the RSS activation for one’s blog? As far as I know, for MSN Spaces, WordPress and Blogger, it’s automatic. You just look for a link or button on your blog and that’s the one your readers need to copy the link from and insert it in your RSS reader. Look for it under subtitles at the side panel of your blog:

rss.jpg

For MSN Spaces, it’s ridiculously obscure, at the bottom right of your blog, and in the form of a button:

msnspaces.jpg

For Blogger blogs, you will need to put a button of your feed, but first need to configure it in at Settings>Site Feed, to look like this:

blogger.jpg

My daughter Skyler’s blog’s feed URL is then http://tufflilgirl.blogspot.com/atom.xml. This is what subscribers need to insert in their readers in order to get the feed.

Making the link to your feed visible on your Blogger blog is a little more complicated because you will need to insert the link yourself, through your template’s HTML editor, like this:

links.jpg

Save it and then republish the index, to see the link appear on your blog’s links panel, to make it easier for your less-than-blog-savvy readers to subscribe.

links3.jpg

As for as RSS reader, there are plenty around. Some popular web-based ones (which means you go to ONE web page to read ALL the stuff you’ve subscribed to) include Google Reader, Newsgator or Bloglines. New ones like Pluck also are quite robust in their functions. All you have to do is sign up and start adding in the blogs and sites you like (which have RSS feeds) and you’re good to go. Everytime you click on your reader, you’ll get all your subscriptions!

The one I’ve plugged into my Microsoft Outlook (so I can read my emails and feeds in the same place) is Blogger’s (or should I say Google’s) RSS Popper. It’s free and easy to install and looks like this:

rsspopper.jpg

And the feeds come into automatically folders in your inbox, looking like this:

rsspopper02.jpg

For a more detailed, yet not-so-technical explanation of the difference between a blog and an RSS feed, read this.

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15 Comments »

  1. simmie said

    You so rock! Thanks for the explanation!!

  2. Idetrorce said

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

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