Depending on whom you ask, RSS stands for "Rich Site Summary", "RDF Site Summary", "Really Simple Syndication", or many others. However, the meaning of the acronym is not what's important; what is important is that RSS -- whatever it stands for -- is the technology that allows you to subscribe to a syndicated news feed you read in a news reader.

What is a news feed?

A news feed -- also known as an RSS feed -- is simply a different way of looking at a Web site's contents. It is updated whenever new content is published to the site. News feeds are not designed to be read in your Web browser; you will need a news reader to subscribe to a feed. The news reader will show you a list of the new content on the site. Each news feed has links back the site, so if you see an event, band, or blog entry you're interested in, you can click back to the site to read the expanded information.

Note that there's nothing specific to about news feeds; you'll be able to use your newsreader to subscribe to feeds offered by thousands of other sites, including Slate, Salon, and the New York Times.

What is a news reader?

A news reader is a computer program that you use to read your subscribed feeds. It is to news feeds what an a program like Hotmail or Outlook is to e-mail.

There are a wide variety of news readers available. We suggest (web-based; for all computers), Feed Demon (Windows), or NetNewsWire (Macintosh).

Why should I use a news reader?

If you read lots of Web sites on a daily basis, or if you read many weblogs, a news reader can save you time. Instead of visiting each site and trying to determine what's new, a newsreader will alert you to new content as soon as it becomes available.

If you find yourself visiting the same site(s) multiple times each week or each day, we highly recommend checking out a news reader.

Where can I find more about syndication?

The weblog Dynamic Objects has a great article with a huge amount of information.