What does the "Syndicate this site", "RSS", or "XML" link on many weblogs mean?


A link that says Syndicate this site, RSS, or XML means that the headlines, a link, and an entry description for each new weblog entry are made available for others to use on their websites or to access through a newsfeed reader program.

What is a "newsfeed reader" program?
Rather than manually checking in on each of the weblogs or news sites that you enjoy, you can instead use a newsfeed reader program that will compile all of the latest headlines and excerpts of your favorite sites that have enabled RSS - sometimes known as Really Simple Syndication. With a newsfeed reader you can easily and freely subscribe to content from enabled websites.

For example, say there were several cooking weblogs that interested you. Rather than looking at each one everyday for new content, you could subscribe to their new content - their "news feeds"- in your newsfeed reader program, which with the click of one button would show you a list of the headlines of all new entries from all the sites to which you subscribe. Clicking on the headline would give you an excerpt for the entry and a link to the actual site. This way you could more easily choose to read the entries that interested you the most.

Several free newsfeed readers are available including:
NetNewsWire Lite - for the Mac
Feed Demon - a free trial for the PC
Bloglines.com - a web-based free newsfeed reader.

Why is RSS a good thing?
For the content viewer, the ability to subscribe to content using RSS means that you can easily get content that you want without every having to worry about spam. The content doesn't go to your email box, it goes to a news feeder. You can subscribe or unsubscribe to whatever content you want.

For the content provider, you can help popularize your site by making it really easy for people to keep up-to-date with your latest entries.

How do I know if a site is RSS enabled?
Usually sites post a little button that says RSS or xml.gif or a link that says "Syndicate this site". You can find the RSS URL for the site by clicking on one of these buttons or links. This will most likely take you to a page with a lot of ugly text on it. Never mind the text, just copy the URL that appears in the URL window for the page and use that URL to subscribe to the site in your newsfeed reader. MacOS Safari users may find that clicking on "Syndicate this site" prompts a download of an index.rdf file rather than opening a new browser window. If this happens try using the website's main URL, followed by index.rdf, as the URL to use to subscribe to the feed. Or use your mouse to right-click over the link and choose "Open Link in New Window".

How can I get notified of new entries posted to this site?
The first step is to download a newsfeed reader. The next is to copy and paste this site's RSS URL into your newsfeed reader where it says to subscribe to a new feed. Find this site's RSS URL by clicking on the link that says "Syndicate this site" or "XML".

How do I put content from an RSS feed on to my site?
There are many methods to pull newsfeed content from sites offering RSS feeds. See Displaying an RSS Newsfeed on Your Site to get started.

Links:
Here's a more indepth discussion of RSS and Syndication: an introduction to weblogs, part two: syndication

Copyright 2004 Elise Bauer. All Rights Reserved. Learning Movable Type
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