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About FeedsMany websites have links labeled "XML" or "RSS" or "Atom". All of these are ways of saying that you can find out about updates to that site without having to visit the site in your web browser.
This feature is referred to as "syndication" or "aggregation". Sometimes it's just called subscribing. And these days, instead of one of these words, lots of sites will use a little orange button. The standard one looks like this: . It's also common to see buttons that say "RSS" or "XML", which looks like this: .
All these links and buttons mean the same thing: The site you're viewing has a feed available.
Who Publishes Feeds?Anyone that publishes on the web can publish a feed. Blogs (or weblogs) were one of the first types of sites to offer feeds, but most major newspapers and news websites, hobbyist sites, and even stores like Amazon.com all offer feeds, too.
What Do I Need?Just like when you want to watch a video clip or listen to music on the web, you need a "player" of some kind to subscribe to feeds. Good news: Most of these tools are free, and there are many to choose from, so you can find the one that best suits you.
The "player" for a feed is called a feed reader. This tool lets you subscribe to any feeds you want, checks automatically to see when they're updated, and then displays the updates for you as they arrive.
Feed readers can run on your computer or you can sign up to use a feed-reader that runs on the web. If you use one of the web-based readers, you can access your feeds from anywhere you go, just by signing into the website that manages your feeds. If you use a feed reading program that installs on your computer, your feeds can be stored for you even if you're not connected to the Internet.
What Feed Reader Should I Use?Here's a list of some of the most popular tools our customers have told us they like.
On the web: If you don't want to have to install a program, many people choose one of the following:
to read feeds right within the home page that their browser starts in.
Other providers of web-based feed readers include:
All of the web-based services are free.
Subscribing to FeedsOnce you've got a tool to read feeds, you'll want to find some feeds worth reading. Many of the tools listed above provide some built-in feeds to get you started. Then, as you visit other sites on the web, you can keep your eyes open for links that say XML or RSS or Syndication, or for that orange button up above, and add the feeds you find interesting.