What is RSS?

RSS Example

Following is output from the RSS feed button on our main page which will be used by your RSS aggregator:

RSS Readers

Think of an RSS aggregator/reader as just a web browser for RSS content. RSS aggregators automatically check a series of RSS feeds for new items on an ongoing basis, making it is possible to keep track of changes to multiple websites without needing to tediously read and re-read each of the websites yourself. They detect the additions and present them all together to you in a compact and useful manner. If the title and description of an item are of interest, the link can be used to quickly bring the related web page up for reading.

Top Picks

Web: feeds.reddit. Check all your feeds from any web browser. Plus, vote on items and get recommendations about other feeds you’ll like.
Firefox: infoRSS. A popular Firefox aggregator extension for RSS / ATOM / NNTP / Parsed HTML.
Windows: SharpReader. Simple, but gets the job done.
Mac OS X: NetNewsWire. This elegant Mac-like aggregator is easy to use and powerful.
Linux: Straw. The best aggregator for GNOME. Read the full list of Linux aggregators.


AmphetaDesk. A news aggregator you access through a web browser. (Mac/Win/Linux)
FeedDemon. A more complicated aggregator for Windows. (Win)
FeedReader. Like SharpReader, but sporadically updated. (Win)
NewsGator. Read the news from within Microsoft Outlook. (Win)
News Is Free. Lets you create your own customized news page with feeds from the sites you’re interested in. (Web)
Novobot. A smart headline viewer and news ticker that can also process almost any website. (Win)
Radio UserLand. A full-strength news-reading application, on your desktop. (Mac/Win)
rss2email. Reads RSS feeds and sends each new item to you as an email. (Unix)

Full LIst

Here is a complete list of news aggregators. Also read the comprehensive community-edited comparison chart of news aggregators at AggCompare.

What problem does RSS solve?

Most people are interested in many websites whose content changes on an unpredictable schedule. Examples of such websites are news sites, community and religious organization information pages, product information pages, medical websites, and weblogs. Repeatedly checking each website to see if there is any new content can be very tedious.
Email notification of changes was an early solution to this problem. Unfortunately, when you receive email notifications from multiple websites they are usually disorganized and can get overwhelming, and are often mistaken for spam.
RSS is a better way to be notified of new and changed content. Notifications of changes to multiple websites are handled easily, and the results are presented to you well organized and distinct from email.

How does RSS work?

RSS works by having the website author maintain a list of notifications on their website in a standard way. This list of notifications is called an “RSS Feed”. People who are interested in finding out the latest headlines or changes can check this list. Special computer programs called “RSS aggregators” have been developed that automatically access the RSS feeds of websites you care about on your behalf and organize the results for you. (RSS feeds and aggregators are also sometimes called “RSS Channels” and “RSS Readers”.)
Producing an RSS feed is very simple and hundreds of thousands of websites now provide this feature, including major news organizations like the New York Times, the BBC, and Reuters, as well as many weblogs.

What information does RSS provide?

RSS provides very basic information to do its notification. It is made up of a list of items presented in order from newest to oldest. Each item usually consists of a simple title describing the item along with a more complete description and a link to a web page with the actual information being described. Sometimes this description is the full information you want to read (such as the content of a weblog post) and sometimes it is just a summary.
For example, the RSS information for headlines on a local news website could contain the following information:
Item 1: 
  Title:Sidewalk contract awarded
  Description:The city awarded the sidewalk contract to Smith Associates. This hotly contested deal is worth $1.2 million.
Item 2: 
  Title:Governor to visit
  Description:The governor is scheduled to visit the city on July 1st. This is the first visit since the election two years ago. The mayor is planning a big reception.

The RSS information is placed into a single file on a website in a manner similar to normal web pages. However, the information is coded in the XML computer language for use by a program (the RSS aggregator) and not by a person like a normal web page.

How do I find out if a website has an RSS feed?

It is getting more and more common for websites to have RSS feeds. They usually indicate the existence of the feed on the home page or main news page with a link to “RSS”, or sometimes by displaying an orange button with the letters “XML” or “RSS”. RSS feeds are also often found via a “Syndicate This” link. Text “RSS” links sometimes (there are lots of variations) point to a web page explaining the nature of the RSS feeds provided and how to find them. The buttons are often linked directly to the RSS feed file itself.
Once you know the URL of an RSS feed, you can provide that address to an RSS aggregator program and have the aggregator monitor the feed for you. Many RSS aggregators come preconfigured with a list to choose from of RSS feed URLs for popular news websites.