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RSS Defined

No page on blogging would be complete without taking some time to explain RSS. Wait! Don't let those eyes glaze over yet, you still don't have to know a thing about how to create RSS code! Most blogging tools will do that for you.

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication." It's a way to send your blog to whomever subscribes to it whenever you update.

This is of fundamental importance. If you're wondering whether or not an old fashioned (static) web site has updated you have to type in it's web address and check it out. Once there, you had a lot of questions to ask:

Has it updated? If it updated, what's different? Hasn't that flashing graphic proclaiming that section as "NEW!" been there for the past three months? If there is a new update, did you miss any updates between this one and the last time you checked the site?

With RSS, you don't have to go to the web site any more. Instead, when you see a blog you like that offers RSS all you have to do is copy the RSS code on the site into an "RSS Aggregator" like Bloglines. Then, whenever that site has new content your Aggregator tells you.

RSS Explained

Think of subscribing via RSS as subscribing to a newspaper. Before you subscribed you had to walk/drive/roller-skate to your local news stand and buy a paper. You could do this every day, but if you forgot then that day was lost.

Once you subscribed it just showed up at your door everyday. You didn't have to remember to go get it, and when a paper showed up on your doorstep you could keep it until you were done with it.

In a nutshell, RSS took a media where you had to PULL the content from websites and changed it so that your favorite sites could PUSH their content to you whenever they updated. It sounds subtle, but in practice it's a big difference in convenience.

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