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RSS

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Feeds without fuzz.

What is RSS?

Originally, RSS stood for “RDF/Rich Site Summary” but was later changed to “Really Simple Syndication”

RSS is a way to subscribe to a website. Whenever that website updates it writes its changes to a XML file. You can then read this XML file and see what changed at a glance.

Many websites use RSS including YouTube, Reddit Lemmy, Twitter Mastodon, most news sites, and almost any blog out there. For many blogs, RSS is the main way to distribute new posts.

RSS is experiencing a Renaissance at the moment: Many people are now seeing the damages done by algorithmic feeds and want to go back to purely chronological feeds. RSS provides a perfect infrastructure for this.

How to read RSS?

First, you need a feed reader. On macOS and iOS I highly recommend NetNewsWire. For terminal fans Newsboat is the way to go. Thunderbird is also a good choice but there are tons of programs that can read RSS feeds.

That’s bascially it. Now you need to add some feeds and you are ready.

I recommend picking a reader that can also fetch the article without opening the browser and loading a ton of ads.

Pro tip: You can export your subscibtions to a OPML file and import them into any RSS reader.

How to distribute RSS?

This is the hardest question to answer about RSS as there are endless possibilities.

The easiest way would probably be to use a service such as Mastodon that generates the feed automatically. If that platform isn’t for you, WordPress is a good way to host a blog. I read about people setting up their own scripts that automatically update the feed for new posts.

I use Hugo which is a static site generator. It generates feeds automatically but lies somewhere between WordPress and writing your own scripts in terms of how tech savvy you should be.

How to find RSS?

Go to a website you like, copy the URL and paste it into your RSS reader. Modern feed readers can find RSS feed on their own, you just have to provide a link to the site you want to subscribe to. If that is not the case, you could try adding /index.xml to the URL.

Some sites, like this one, also link to their RSS feeds. Often those links are a the bottom of the website and are either marked as RSS, Feed, or just use the logo. I additionally provide links to my subprojects such as my microblog or my photos. Feel free to add them to your reader.

Conclusion

I think RSS is on the rise. It’s an old protocol that survived numerous challenges It provides an escape from the algorithms and large social media companies. It also provides a way for content creators to distribute their content on their own without any middleman.