about really simple syndication – RSS

Some web sites, like news sites, are lucky enough to have quite a few new articles every day.  It is easy to go back to those sites every day as you know there will be new articles.  This isn’t necessarily the case for casual bloggers.

It is always possible to visit the site daily or hourly looking for new stories but there is a better way.  The better way might be to create a list of stories that is published that can easily be retrieved allowing the user to easily see what if anything has been added to the site.

This is not a new idea and has been around using the names such as “rich site summary”, “RDF site summary” but is usually called “really simple syndication” or RSS.  The idea is that this file can be monitored and the user can be informed of new content.  This list or document contains a full or summarized list of the stories including meta data such as author or published date.

It is possible to get a stand alone RSS client or as a plugin for your web browser which can read these RSS files.  It really would not be terribly much fun to manually to maintain this but WordPress actually will do that for us automatically.

It is possible to query this from this site (or any wordpress site) by simply passing in a parameter when visiting the site.


This will return the RSS list that is maintained by WordPress which can then be used by the RSS client to monitor the site.

Some WordPress sites are configured with custom permalinks and this won’t work.  It is possible to get the RSS list by using a slightly different link – this particular link won’t work on this site.


It is possible get all stories from a wordpress site in this way, but it is also possible to see only a subset based on categories or tags.  This information is really well expressed on the wordpress site.

To make it obvious to readers of the web sites, the bloggers simply have a small icon which returns the RSS feed link.  This link should be added to the RSS client’s list of feeds.  This is an example of what most of the RSS icons look like.


You do, however, need a small bit of code behind the text.

<a href="http://blog.paranoidprofessor.com/?feed=rss">
<img src="http://blog.paranoidprofessor.com/wp-content/uploads/www.clker.com-small-rss.png" 
alt="Subscribe to RSS Feed" /></a>

The code, does the work, the icon makes a visible point but how did I actually use it?  I simply created a new text widget and added the code to my widget.


Coming clean …

I have never really had much use for RSS, although I did configure one as a ticker for my laptop for this article.  The Internet is full of information about RSS as well as plugins or other client programs.

There is a good article describing what RSS is and how to use it from wpbeginner.com.

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