RSS (originally RDF Site Summary; later, two competing approaches emerged, which used the backronyms Rich Site Summary and Really Simple Syndication respectively) is a type of web feed which allows users and applications to access updates to online content in a standardized, computer-readable format. These feeds can, for example, allow a user to keep track of many different websites in a single news aggregator.
The news aggregator will automatically check the RSS feed for new content, allowing the content to be automatically passed from website to website or from website to user. This passing of content is called web syndication. Websites usually use RSS feeds to publish frequently updated information, such as blog entries, news headlines, or episodes of audio and video series. RSS is also used to distribute podcasts. An RSS document (called “feed”, “web feed”, or “channel”) includes full or summarized text, and metadata, like publishing date and author’s name.
A standard XML file format ensures compatibility with many different machines/programs. RSS feeds also benefit users who want to receive timely updates from favourite websites or to aggregate data from many sites.
Subscribing to a website RSS removes the need for the user to manually check the website for new content. Instead, their browser constantly monitors the site and informs the user of any updates. The browser can also be commanded to automatically download the new data for the user.
RSS feed data is presented to users using software called a news aggregator. This aggregator can be built into a website, installed on a desktop computer, or installed on a mobile device. Users subscribe to feeds either by entering a feed’s URI into the reader or by clicking on the browser’s feed icon. The RSS reader checks the user’s feeds regularly for new information and can automatically download it, if that function is enabled. The reader also provides a user interface.