To uninformed Internet users, RSS may seem to be a set of letters that could scare them away. But it doesn't.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It could also mean Rich Site Summary or RDF Site Summary that allows Internet users to send information through "feeds" that show up either in an RSS reader or other e-mail programs.
The RSS is also known as web feed formats in XML (also known as extensible markup language, which lets users identify information more accurately and flexibly) and is commonly used for web syndication.
Through the RSS, users can receive new content and allow them to easily subscribe to the latest contents of the website you're interested in. By doing so, users will be able to control the rate and volume of data that they will receive online. That way, people who use the Internet on a regular basis can do away with problems related to heavy usage, like gathering and distributing news, and increasing site traffic.
Using RSS also lets you save time because you no longer need to visit the sites of your choice individually. And what's more, your privacy is ensured because you don't have to sign up for the newsletters being offered by your favorite sites.
It was UserLand which first used RSS in 1997. Other Internet giants like Netscape followed shortly after.
But before RSS was fully developed, other similar forms – like Backweb and Pointcast – of syndication already existed. However, none of these were able to attain the popularity RSS is enjoying now because most of them were designed to work for only a single service.
RSS' first version – the RDF Site Summary of RSS 0.9 – was created by Netscape's Dan Libby in March 1999 for the My Netscape portal. This was modified four months later to incorporate suggestions from users.
However, Netscape lost interest in the RSS/XML at a time when its use became widespread. This abandonment of some sorts prompted various users to set up a working group and mailing list just to keep the usage of RSS going. Since then, several modifications have been introduced to make RSS better.
How it works
To make RSS work, a website owner maintains a standard list of notifications, commonly called the RSS Feed, on their site.
The RSS Feed allows users interested on the particular site to find out what's new or what have been changed by simply checking out the list. One can then automatically access the list and have it organized with the help of special computer programs known as the RSS aggregators.
The next thing you need to do is to start producing an RSS feed, a feature now commonly provided in websites especially of major news organizations.
Once you have an RSS feed, it's already very easy to provide the basic information – all arranged chronologically – that your frequent website visitors would need.
The items found on the list contain a title that would describe the item, a detailed description and a link to the web page that contains the actual information you initially stated. There are times, however, that the detailed description is already the actual information of the website.
When frequent visitors to your website know you are using RSS feeds, it gives them a sense of security knowing that you are concerned about their privacy.
This is made possible by the RSS' incorruptible opt-in feature, where consumers are always given the last say on whether they want to subscribe to a specific RSS feed.
Another good thing about RSS feeds is that it allows you to save time in doing online marketing, in the same way that new technology does for both marketers and consumers. This is the case especially when coming up with a subject line for the feed. It has to be worded in such a way that it would catch the attention of your users.
Finally, the good thing about RSS feeds is that they are measurable, in different ways, though, in the same manner that there are different ways of telling whether an e-mail has been read or not.
About the Author: Mark Rapor is the author. More information can be found at www.blueskyprojects.com.