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RSS Feed Tool

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What are RSS Feeds?

RSS (originally RDF Site Summary, often dubbed Really Simple Syndication) is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated works—such as blog entries, news headlines, audio, and video—in a standardized format.

An RSS document (which is called a “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, plus metadata such as publishing dates and authorship.

RSS feeds benefit publishers by letting them syndicate content automatically. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. They benefit readers who want to subscribe to timely updates from favorite websites or to aggregate feeds from many sites into one place.

To know more, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSS

How to publish RSS feeds on your website

RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a technology that provides news and announcements that are important to your business organisation. You can create its own feeds in order to distribute new and vital information to your constituents and supporters.

There are a few options for creating outgoing RSS feeds that don’t need great technical effort. For instance, your organization’s blog software may already have a feature that automatically transforms your posts into RSS feeds your audience can subscribe to. The same is true of many content management systems. Alternatively, there are number of inexpensive Web-based feed-creation services that can generate an RSS feed of almost any page on your Web site.

In addition to content-publishing tools, most blogging services include features that will serve up your posts as news feed. If you need to add multiple feeds to your site, check to see if your blogging platform supports this functionality.

While many blogging services allow you to create an RSS feed, others instead support Atom, a type of syndicated XML feed that is very similar to RSS. If you are seeking a Web-based blogging service that supports both Atom and RSS feeds, consider LiveJournal or TypePad. By contrast, Blogger only creates feeds in the Atom format, while WordPress.com only offers support for RSS (e.g.: www.yoursiteorblog.com/RSS or www.yoursiteorblog.com/FEED).

Very often, organizations publish their own articles and news stories witht a content management system. The CMS is an application that is designed to organize, store, and publish content and include varied tools for adding RSS feeds to your site. The best examples are Drupal and Plone, two free, open source CMS. Compared to these there are other which require extension to function and some which do not support it all. Given this, it is advisable to consider RSS support if you are installing content-management software.

In the event that an RSS feed using a CMS is not a reasonable solution, you could try using some of the Web-based tools that allow anyone with an Internet connection to build a feed. Most of theses services are offered free of charge. Some do feature advertisements on free feeds supplemented by a monthly fee if you need to create more than one RSS feed or require technical support. It is essential to check the time the staff of your organization can spend maintaining the feed as some online services will ask you to manually add the new headlines, links, and descriptive text you want delivered to your subscribers.

Smaller organizations that are looking for a low-maintenance RSS-creation option might want to check out FeedYes or  PonyFish. Though these services are typically for Web surfers to receive updates from sites that lack their own RSS feeds, you can also use them to serve up your own headlines and content. Both of these services work by “scraping” the links and text off a given page on your Web site and saving the links and text into an XML document. Both FeedYes and PonyFish are similar to configure and simple to use. First, enter the URL of the page you want to create a feed for. This will display the links on that page; choose the ones you want to include in the feed. Finally, select the button to generate the XML document. You can then add a link to that document from your Web page. That’s your RSS feed, available for anyone to access.

Though FeedYes will allow you to create as many RSS feeds as you’d like, you will have to pay a yearly subscription fee to remove the ads. Ponyfish also lets users create an unlimited number of feeds, though if you want the service to refresh the feeds every hour (instead of every four hours) for a minimal fee.

If you want to create a feed that consists of articles and links from several different pages, you can do so by creating a free account at sites like LinkRSS, Publi.sh, HitRSS, and FeedPublish.com. Services such as these will require someone at your organization to manually enter URLs and headlines each time you want to add a new item to your feed. On the plus side, users who subscribe to the feed won’t have to take any additional steps to receive the latest articles and news.

Adding an RSS or Atom feed to your Web site calls creativity and is easy to do. It is cost effective and does not require great technical skills. Most importantly a feed ensure that your supporters are always in tune to the happenings of your organization.

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