In general, RSS feeds alert people to when a given website has published new information.
People who subscribe to an RSS feed can get the latest information on the topic of their interest, as it is being published, delivered to them in a convenient and easy to manage way.
This RSS information, typically read through a feed reader, requires relatively little effort to access and manage, and can be delivered to the RSS subscriber via any of the following means:
- Web browser as a feed reader: Many modern web browsers have an inbuilt facility to add, display and manage RSS feeds as a favourite or a bookmark, including Internet Explorer.
- Web-based feed readers: Web-based feed readers such as Google Reader provide a rich set of features to subscribe to, peruse, read and manage RSS feeds. They provide the ability to access the feeds from any computer connected to the internet, making this option useful for mobile users.
- Desktop feed readers: There are many desktop software programs dedicated to the management of RSS feeds. Many of these feed readers are available for free non-commercial use and can be downloaded from the internet.
- Mobile Phone feed readers: Mobile phones such as the iPhone, Android or Blackberry, and larger screen tablets like the iPad, come with a host of feed reader applications that provide for the perusal and management of RSS feeds on a mobile devise.
- Email program as a feed reader: Many email programs such as Outlook and Lotus Notes have inbuilt feed reader abilities, often integrating the RSS feeds seamlessly into the email program for an efficient, intuitive and easy to use addition to the email program.
- RSS feed delivered as a daily email: RSS subscribers can choose to simply receive a daily email with a summary of the prior day’s RSS feed titles, linked for convenient further exploration, if required. To subscribe to the RSS mailing list for any given feed please click on the link to "Receive feed updates via email >>".
- RSS feed published on an organisation’s Intranet: Organisations can choose to syndicate an RSS feed onto their Intranet, providing their staff with a convenient and timely display of relevant work-related information, provided in meaningful context to other Corporate or Departmental Intranet content. For syndication purposes, please contact your network administrator for advice or assistance.
Feed readers are either inbuilt into existing software available on most computer desktops or mobile devices, or can be installed by downloading dedicated feed reader software programs.
There are many feed reader software programs available, and many of them are free to use. You will find a list of RSS feed readers at RSS Info or DMOZ Open Directory Project, or you can search Google, Yahoo or Bing for “feed reader software”. Choose a feed reader that suits your computer system and has the features you think you will require.
Once you have installed your feed reader, you can subscribe to new RSS feeds, and configure the feed reader to alert you to new information either in real-time, or at regular intervals (eg, hourly, daily).
RSS feeds are typically identified by the orange RSS icon that appears next to a title or a link.
To subscribe to an RSS feed, simply copy the RSS URL or web address, and paste it into your feed reader software. Please note that unsubscribe facilities are provided within the feed reader software.
Alternatively, you can click on the RSS button to subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader. Most sites that offer feeds use a similar orange button, but some may just have a normal web link.
Information provided courtesy of the Parliament of New South Wales