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RSS Explained

RSS - or 'Really Simple Syndication' - is an alternative means of accessing the vast amount of information that now exists on the world wide web. Instead of the user browsing websites for information of interest, the information is sent directly to the user. There are two halves to the RSS system that allows this to happen.

The first is that the user needs to have an 'RSS reader'. This is a program which collects the raw XML news feeds from websites that are RSS-compatible and turns them into text and links that a user can browse at his or her leisure. The beauty of this is that a user can take feeds only from websites that are of interest to them, and that it allows you to scan the latest information from a range of sources without having to visit half a dozen different websites. If you set this up properly with Firefox, you can get the latest RSS feed to appear in your 'Bookmarks'. See instructions below.

The second half of the RSS system is that a website must have a feed specially set up to work with the news reader. Most big news websites now have such systems - and now the SocialistProject has one. These feeds list the latest news/articles on the website. The user sets the URLs for these feeds into the news reader, and presto - the website comes to the user, rather than the user coming to the site.

Some news readers can also be set to notify you of any new content - almost like receiving an email. You need never miss that vital piece of information again (hopefully).

A good example of RSS is the CBC website.

More about RSS on the WikePedia website.

How to setup RSS feeds in Firefox

If you have Firefox, RSS functionality is built in. Firefox calls this feature Live Bookmarks. Here's how to use it:

Simple instructions - if you see this symbol just click on it and follow the Bookmark Wizard.

Slightly more complex instructions:

  1. Right click the RSS link that you want to use as a resource.
  2. Select Copy link location from the pop-up menu.
  3. Now open the Bookmarks menu and choose Manage Bookmarks...
  4. This opens the Bookmarks Manager which shows you all your bookmarks.
  5. Highlight the folder in your bookmarks where you want the RSS menu to appear.
  6. I have an RSS folder in my bookmarks so I'll highlight that.
  7. Next open the File menu and choose New Live Bookmark.
  8. A Properties window will open.
  9. Right click the Feed Location: field and choose Paste. This will put in the link to the RSS feed that we copied earlier.
  10. You can use the Name: field to name the bookmark anything you want eg: "Socialist Project".
  11. You can type a description of the bookmark in the Description field eg: "Socialist Project - RSS".
  12. Click OK and X out of the Bookmarks Manager.

That's all there is to it. To use the RSS feed just open your bookmarks to the location where you created the Live Bookmark. Hold the cursor over the name of the Live Bookmark and a fly-out menu should appear with a list of links. If you right clicked the RSS feed next to a forum name that list will contain the titles of the latest topics in that forum.

More good instructions by John Bokma.

How to setup RSS feeds in Microsoft Internet Explorer 7

RSS is built into Microsoft's Internet Explorer v. 7 (beta version is now available). When you click on the yellow star on far left of toolbar (bookmarks) it displays an entry on the first line for "Feeds." All you have to do is paste in the URL for the feed you have picked up, and it will be listed from then on. (Before using this utility, you may have to go into
File -> Tools -> Internet Options -> Content and specify that you want to access Feeds.

If the Feed button RSS Feed icon in Internet Explorer lights up, it means that the site offers RSS feeds. Click the icon to see the feed and, if you want, subscribe to have the feed automatically sent to your computer. When you click the subscribe button Add/Subscribe icon, the feed is automatically added to the Favorites Center and to the Common Feed List for sharing with other programs.

Examples of other left RSS sources: