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This question does not have a one sentence answer! If I just said that one uses this icon to get a site's RSS feed, you still won't understand. So let's try and answer you in such a way that it all makes sense to you and, more importantly, that you learn how to benefit from it.
Let's say that you like my web site very much and you would like to read new content as I add it. At this stage there is no way of informing you when I've added a new page except for notifying you by email. This assumes that you've provided me with your e-mail address - which most people are hesitant to do any way. The other way is for you to bookmark my site - but how many times do people really go back to a site?
What if I told you that you could have a little "window" (called a reader or an aggregator) on your monitor and that, each time I updated my site, you are automatically informed about it. How, you may ask? A headline (called a news feed) and a short summary to inform/tease you is squirted to your reader. If the teaser interests you, all you need to do is follow the hyperlink that will take you to that page on my web site where you can read it all. If you're not interested, you simply delete the headline. The process is repeated each time I add new content.
You can of course subscribe to as many feeds as you want to - from current affairs to people's personal blogs (a blog is short for web log which is a diary or a journal on the internet).
So, what must you do to set it up and how much is it going to cost?
Let's answer the second question first: Setting it up is FREE - it will cost you nothing.
This is how to setup a reader or an aggregator on a Windows system:
Download Microsoft's .NET framework here:
Install this on you system.
Download RSSReader from here:
Install this on you system.
You are now ready to add your first feed.
As an example I'll walk you through the process of adding my site http://www.perfect-party-ideas.com 's XML feed. Navigate to the site. On the home page you will see the orange XML icon. Right-click the XML icon and then click the "Copy Shortcut" option.
Open the RSSReader and click on the green "+ Add" icon in the top left hand corner. A form opens up that prompts you to enter the URL of the feed. Just paste the URL here (ctrl-v). Well done - you've just added your very first RSS feed.
Let's test if it is working. Click the "Get" icon which is to the left of the "+Add" icon. You should see a number of feeds arriving in your reader. Simply double-click the ones you are interested in to read the summary. Click the "Read more" or "Open in a Browser" links if you want to read the whole article.
Was it that difficult? No, I agree, it's fairly straight forward.
Now you are ready to sign up for more feeds. Why not sign up for my blog's feed as well? I use my blog to document the process of setting up my web site. There I share my ideas, failures, frustrations, doubts, successes, and articles that have I found useful. And, B.t.w. I also tell you how to make money from your web site.
If you're interested in following the exciting journey, just copy and paste this URL exactly as you did with the previous one.
Congratulations - you have entered the exciting world of RSS!
Anne-Marie Killer is a mother of two teenagers and a toddler. She is the webmaster and owner of Perfect Party Ideas Read her blog where she documents the process of setting up Perfect Party Ideas
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