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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

How to Subscribe via RSS

Would you like to be informed whenever there is a new posting to read on this - or any other - site? It easy - if you know how to subscribe via RSS.

A study done by Yahoo in October claims that only 12% of internet users know what RSS is, and only 4% are actively using it. But its REALLY easy. So here's the poop.

What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Its a a method for using the file format called XML to keep you updated about the contents of news sites, blogs, and other frequently updated sites. The RSS information from a site is known as its feed. You can often see the raw feed data for a syndicated site by clicking on the little orange XML or RSS button if it is displayed. But this information doesn't do you much good. [Update (March 08:: On this blog, the button reads XML - Its at the top of the left-hand sidebar - I see from the comments some folks have had trouble finding it!]

How do I use it?
To use RSS information, you need to first select one of many feed reader products available for use. Most of them are free. Some are downloaded to your desktop, and some live on the internet and are used through your browser. I like these, because it means you can get at your feeds wherever you are. Far and away the most popular of these browser-based readers is Bloglines.

If you click on the Subscribe with BlogLines button in the left-hand sidebar, you can subscribe to this blog AND set up a totally free BlogLines account in minutes! PLEASE do this now if you do not already have a feed reader! You'll be glad you did.

So how do I subscribe to something else with Bloglines?
Bloglines provides about the easiest way to subscribe that I've ever seen. Now that you have a subscription, go to this page and read the instructions for setting up a Subscribe with Bloglines button on your browser. Its very easy - especially for Firefox - where you just drag the bookmark from the webpage to your bookmark bar. From now on, whenever you are reading something you'd like to subscribe to - a blog, a newspaper's web page, whatever - click this bookmark. Bloglines will ask you which folder to store it in, and that's that.

How do I read these subscriptions?
Just go to Bloglines, and click on MyFeeds. You will see your subscriptions in folders on the left. If there is an unread item in a feed, the name will be bold, and the number of unread items appears next to it. Just click! Now you can go to one location and see if there is anything new at any of the sites you keep tabs on.

That's nice. But I'd rather you just emailed me whenever you post something.
Well, you can subscribe that way too. Just under that BlogLines button I have a Subscribe via Email button. Just fill in your email address and click Subscribe Me. Again, you will need to spend about 60 seconds setting up an account, this time with FeedBlitz, who provides this elegant little email service. I just learned about this service the other day from Britt Bravo at TechSoup.

Comments on "How to Subscribe via RSS"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (February 12, 2006 at 1:17 PM) : 

Hi Michael,

I really just want the rss feed, and don't want to use bloglines. Can you put that link somewhere handy to I can add your blog to my reader?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (March 9, 2008 at 12:40 AM) : 

I found some good stuff on your blog and wanted to subscribe, but you have no RSS feed button (other than bloglines). Honestly, I am very surprised that someone who seems to know a good deal about the use of technology doesn't have a simple RSS button on his blog. Please get a button so you can win a few loyal readers. You've just missed out on one such reader, unless I google back here some day and find that button.


Blogger Michael Stein said ... (March 22, 2008 at 8:24 AM) : 

The XML link in the right hand side-bar is what you are looking for... since readers can accept at least rss, rss2.0, and atom, (Blogger uses Atom) I just labeled the link XML. Sorry for the confusion.


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