What is RSS?

RSS is a great tool that allows you to get post updates without ever having to visit a website to see if there is something new. Here at The Practical Disciple we have a number of ways that you can subscribe to receive updates. Using an RSS feed is one of the most convenient and saves you time.

So what is an RSS feed?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a technology used by millions of web users around the world to automatically keep up with the websites they love. You could just bookmark every website you want to keep up with. However, if you forget to check or if you have many sites that you track it could be very easy for you to miss something.

RSS makes it easy.

RSS allows you to tell a website to let you know whenever there is an update? By sending you updates immediately RSS insures that you never miss anything and that you get the information you want quickly after it’s publication.

Some people will refer to an RSS feed as a news feed that you subscribe to. Just like subscribing to a newspaper and having it delivered to your porch. Instead of having a porch, to get an RSS feed you need an ‘RSS Reader’. There are many readers out there and they are free.

Step 1 — Get an RSS Reader.

Readers and their features vary greatly, but two of the most popular and easy to use are Google Reader and Bloglines.  Personally, I use google reader and have it on my igoogle desktop whenever I hop online.  The readers both work a bit like email.  You subscribe to feeds that you would like to read and any unread entries from those sites appear listed in your reader.  You can select one and skim the article directly from the reader or click on the article and view it at the original site.  Any articles you read will then be marked as read in your reader.

The best way to learn how to use a reader is to simply get one and try it out.  Google Reader and Bloglines both offer extensive help sections to get you going.

Step 2 — Find some feeds and subscribe.

Usually you will see some form of subscription link or button on a site that offers a feed.  Here are just a few of the many out there.

The most common feed symbol of all looks like this…



Whatever the icon or link may look like, subscribing is usually as easy as clicking on it and following the directions that appear in a pop-up box.  Often times you just have to select your reader among the options presented and it is automatically added to your reader.


You can look also look at the address line of most browser to see if a website has a feed.  A small RSS button or orange icon like the one above will usually appear at the far right end of the address bar.  Mine looks like this in safari.



If you click on the RSS button it will then reveal the feed and the address for the feed.  Often times you can copy and paste the address into your reader to subscribe. Or, you can set your browser up to automatically do it when you click on the icon.  You do this by entering the ‘preferences’ for your browser and choosing ‘Google Reader’ or ‘Bloglines’ etc. as your feed reader.  Once this is done and you have subscribed to some feeds you will begin to unread articles in  your reader.


Don’t want to use an RSS Reader?  Email is also an option.

Using a reader isn’t for everyone.  If that is you then you can also subscribe by email.  I have provided a field at the top right hand sidebar where you can enter you email address and begin getting my latest post via email.  You can unsubscribe at any time and your email will never be shared with any third party.

Still don’t understand RSS?

Check out this wonderful short video.

Internet: Useful Tips:
RSS In Plain English
I hope this is helpful and that you will soon be a subscriber to The Practical Disciple.  Once again, thank you for being a reader.