A simple guide to using RSS
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A simple guide to using RSS

With so much new content on the web added daily. it can be tough to keep up with what’s happening online. People try several different ways to stay informed. One solution that sometimes gets overlooked is an old-school one: The RSS feed.
A simple guide to using RSS

I'm sure you have seen this icon before, but maybe had no idea what it was for. Well, you should! So I'm here to school you (and turn you into an RSS maxi)

What is RSS?

RSS stands for really simple syndication, and that's precisely what it does. It aggregates the latest content published on your list of selected websites and allows you to consume it at your leisure. RSS is like a personalized news feed that pulls from sources you are interested in.

Let’s say I subscribe to 100 RSS feeds: a mix of blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and forums. Each day I open up my RSS reader to see all of the new content from each of these feeds in one place.

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. – Wikipedia

How does RSS work?

The working mechanism behind RSS is pretty simple. All you need to get started is an RSS reader (also called an RSS aggregator) and an Internet connection.

Once you’ve picked out an RSS reader (recommendations below), you need to set up valid feed sources (where you’d like to pull content from). The application keeps checking your feed sources for new content and updates when it finds something. The new posts are then imported from the feed source directly onto your RSS reader.

Once the posts are pulled to the RSS reader, it extracts the important content like text and images for you to read. In the case of an RSS for podcasts and video content (yes, you can use RSS on them, too!) the RSS reader will extract the media clip. The great thing about this is that you don’t have to worry about device compatibility or page responsiveness – the post will be displayed in the RSS reader’s default layout. Best of all, RSS is fully automated to pull latest posts to your reader which means that you don’t have to visit sites over and over again to see new posts.

RSS feed reader (aggregator) recommendations

There are many feed readers going around with a variety of approaches and features. Here are some recommendations:

Android Feeder | Read You
iOS / Mac NetNewsWire
Linux Akkregator
Self-hostable FreshRSS
Command-line Newsboat

(All of the readers listed here are open source and do not require creating an account)

RSS vs. social media

Some of the best things from the old internet are still preserved with RSS. Content is shared via simple files, which means the slow-loading, ad-stuffed and tracker-filled clutter of the modern internet are mostly absent.

There aren’t any algorithms. RSS readers are wonderfully dumb. There’s no AI sifting through content to find whatever will outrage you the most. You just get new posts and mark them as read. It’s a calmer world.

There’s no FOMO. If you take a week off from your RSS reader, You don’t get any notifications begging you to come back. All of the content is sitting there waiting. You can skim through it at your own pace or mark all as read in one swoop. It doesn’t matter and there’s no analytics for anybody else to know either.

Finding feeds

Ten years ago, when RSS was more popular, nearly every website had an RSS icon that linked to its RSS feed, making it easy for people to subscribe via their preferred reader. Today, that's rarely the case, but the absence of an RSS icon on a site doesn't mean you can't get that site's content via RSS. With the right RSS reader app, you can get an RSS feed from just about any blog, podcast, social media account, or email newsletter you want to follow.

  • Websites / Blogs
    Most blogging platforms have RSS built in, thus most blogs have a feed even if the owner has never heard of RSS. Usually the feed address (often /feed.xml or similar) is tucked in with all the social links. Most RSS readers can find feeds if you have the website address.
    - Wordpress, Medium, Substack add /feed to the end of the URL
    - Blogger add feeds/posts/default to the end of the URL.
  • Newsletters
    Some newsletters only deliver new content via those newsletters. There's no corresponding blog post, podcast, or YouTube channel to follow. The solution to this issue is: Kill The Newsletter (free)
    Kill the Newsletter generates an email address that you can use to subscribe to newsletters you want to receive. Any newsletters that are sent to that email address are converted into an XML feed. To see those newsletters, just add the provided feed link to your RSS reader.
  • YouTube
    Visit any YouTube channel page: (Lets use Foundation Devices channel as an example) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3UcWMQ53oimbVxGJUnRXGw – copy everything after channel/ so: UC3UcWMQ53oimbVxGJUnRXGw and then paste that text in behind this: https://youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=
    For example the feed URL for Foundation Devices YouTube channel is: https://youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UC3UcWMQ53oimbVxGJUnRXGw
    - Newpipe also provides Feed URLs for YouTube channels (RSS icon located on channel page)
  • Podcasts
    The infrastructure to distribute podcasts is none other than RSS, so most of the popular podcast platforms provide RSS URLs (look for the RSS icon)
  • Twitter
    Twitter has removed native RSS feeds from its public interface. It used to allow users to click on the special RSS icon and subscribe to the posts of each user they selected. But don't worry;
    Nitter provides RSS feeds for every Twitter user.
    1. Get the twitter @username
    2. Replace [username] in the following URL
    For example the feed URL of @sovrnbitcoiner is: https://nitter.net/sovrnbitcoiner/rss
    For only tweets (not replies, quotes, retweets) use the following syntax: https://nitter.net/search/rss?q=-filter:replies+-filter:retweets+-filter:quote+from:[username]
  • Telegram Channels
    1. Get the name of a public channel
    2. Replace [channel] in the following URL
    For example the feed URL of sovrnbitcoiner is: https://rsshub.app/telegram/channel/sovrnbitcoiner
  • Github
    GitHub provides several timeline resources in Atom format. Some of the official RSS feeds:
    Replace [owner] & [repo] in the following URLs
    - Repo releases https:github.com/[owner]/[repo]/releases.atom
    - Repo commits https://github.com/[owner]/[repo]commits.atom
    - Repo tags  https://github.com/[owner]/[repo]/tags.atom
    - User activity https://github.com/[user].atom
  • Gitea
    gitea2rss generates RSS feeds from Gitea releases, tags and commits

Find an RSS feed for any site by checking the source code
Did none of the above tricks work? You can try finding an RSS feed by checking a web page's source code. Don't panic! It's easier than it sounds..

  • Right click an empty space on the website then click View Page Source (the exact wording may vary depending on your browser).
  • Now search the code by pressing Ctrl+F (Windows, Linux) or command+F (Mac). Start by searching for rss
  • If searching for rss doesn't work, try atom instead. Look for an RSS URL then copy it into your feed reader.

RSS-Bridge is a PHP project capable of generating RSS and Atom feeds for websites that don't have one.

siftrss - enter the URL of an RSS or Atom feed, select your filters, and you'll get a link for a new feed. Subscribe to see only what you want to see!

I’ve built up my feeds over the years. A blog I read links to another blog that looks interesting — gets added. Randomly find a neat blog post — it gets added. Someone recommends a YouTube channel — it gets added.

Organize your feed

An organized RSS feed is the clearest and easiest to understand, especially if you often read updates on the go. Once you've finalized your RSS subscriptions, most readers will allow you to create folders and categorize the content you receive for easy navigation.


Notifications for this blog ✅

Most feed readers will allow push notifications to be notified when new content is posted to specific feeds.

In Summary

RSS technology simplifies and streamlines how you consume content on the Internet. If you like to stay up to date with a collection of your hand-picked sources then I encourage you to try RSS out on your own.

What are you waiting for? Download a feed reader and add this blog as your first feed :)

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