Introduction to Syndicated Feeds
This section is a very simple introduction to RSS and syndication, so if you know something about the subject, you might want to skip to the next section.
RSS, or to give its full name, Really Simple Sydication, is a rather nifty development on the Internet. At its simplest level, it lets you check when a website has been updated with new stories or other content, but it also provides a means of syndicating news stories, so stories from one site can be carried automatically on another site. (Check out the Portal section on Trufen to see an example of this in action. Another example of syndication of our newsfeed which might be useful to LiveJournalers is available here.) But let's get back to syndication in general.
The Irish Sci-Fi News RSS feed is at
Now, if you do click the link, what should appear (in this case) is rather a lot of code that you might think is HTML, although it isn't. But if you look through it, you can see where the stories appear. But in and of itself, it isn't very useful.
What you need to make it useful is a news aggregator. Now this can be a program on your computer or a plugin for your browser or - and this might be the simplest option for someone new to syndicated feeds (although some might disagree) - an online aggregator website.
There is a list of aggregator programs at RSS at Harvard Law, and if you are using the Mozilla Firefox browser, you can get plugin aggregators by clicking Tools and then Extensions, and then searching the Firefox Extension website.
But, as I said, the easiest way for the novice to access syndicated feeds is through an online aggregator, and I would suggest Bloglines as your first port of call. Sign up for a free Bloglines account by following the instructions on the site. You can then add a feed to your account by copying and pasting the address of the feed into a form, or you can download a plugin for your browser which will enable to subscribe to a feed by clicking a button on the toolbar of your browser. It is easier than it sounds.
How will you know if there is a feed from a site you are visiting? Apart from text links, many sites will have an icon such as this which will link to the feed. Just right-click the icon and copy the address. The icon might say something like RSS or Atom or XML, but it should be fairly obvious. (An Atom Feed is another format for syndicated feeds, but almost all aggregators will deal with it in the same way as they would an RSS feed.)
If you are a My Yahoo! subscriber, you can also subscribe to RSS feeds, again by filling the link to the feed into a form on your My Yahoo! page. Some sites might have a button or a button, which will allow you to subscribe simply by clicking these links, as long as you have the relevant Bloglines or My Yahoo! accounts.
One last point: Subscribing to an RSS feed only means that you are will get it. It doesn't involve money. In general, they are free!
So what's available by RSS?
That would actually take a few thousand pages to answer. Many of the major news sites have syndicated feeds (and you should check the BBC for some excellent examples), but let's stick with the genre feeds. What follows are only a few links, and should only serve as an introduction. We will be including a section on RSS feeds in the Links section soon, so these are just a few of the feeds that have caught our attention recently.
What follows (in no particular order) are links to the actual websites (or the relevant page on the website), while the link beside each entry links to an RSS or some other type of syndicated feed. Even if you have no interest in syndicated feeds, the sites themselves are well worth a visit.