News Alligators (Or How RSS Makes Browsing Easier)
@ flay | Sunday, Jan 3, 2021 | 2 minutes read | Update at Sunday, Jan 3, 2021

Listening to: Kate Bush - Live at Hammersmith Odeon (video)

RSS readers. I just spoke to somebody who didn’t know what one was and said I’d write it up (hi there!).

What

An app which pulls in an overview of articles recent posted from any number of sites. Saves a bucketload of time as you can just click open the full text of interesting items to read and skip the chaff. Podcast apps use a similar structure.

How

RSS ICON Many sites, especially personal blogs like this, will have a square icon with three curves in it (mine is over on the navigation box). Clicking will open up a page of dork code or what looks like garbage text (it’s really called XML). Entering that page URL into a RSS Reader will give you content and update it every time you open your app, looking for new posts. That’s the manual method, each platform and app will have it’s own style. Some organisations even have a nice index page of all feeds by subject https://www.cbc.ca/rss/ and clicking on one will automatically add it to some readers.

Where

It’s common software for any platform and I’m sure a quick search will turn up a few for whatever you’re running. There are also sites which act as portals for your feed (read the fine print). I’ve never found a need to pay for one, but use open-source software. Your call. If you do go free or open source, perhaps kick beer money to the developer if you’re flush. They like that.

WTF?

Sometimes a site will “lose” the link to the feed, taking the icon off the site. It doesn’t mean the feed isn’t being generated, but that somebody thought it didn’t make enough money screwed up the coding. If you look in “common places” you’ll often find it there anyway. /index.xml, /rss/, /feed/ etc. Some search engines will pull the direct URL up as well.

Many big sites have eliminated them despite almost every CMS (content management system) supporting the feed structure. Reasons vary, but many want you to surf the site so they can monetise your visit with ads or by selling the personal data you generate.

More info: Wikipedia RSS Entry

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