RSS Explained

It recently came to my attention that some of my readers would like an explanation about RSS. The questions raised were, What is RSS? and, Why would I want to use it? And what does it mean to “Subscribe” to a site?

Well, Lee LeFever over at The Common Craft Show does such a great job explaining RSS in Plain English I thought it would be best to simply allow him to teach you about RSS. The video takes less than 4 minutes to watch and will allow you to walk away with a better understanding of RSS, and, how it will benefit YOU as reader.

RSS in Plain English

Would you like to look over the transcript of the video? Here you go…

The following is a transcript of the words spoken in the video RSS in Plain English, as provided by

The Internet has problems. Technorati says there are 50 million weblogs, and as you can see, it’s going up. This is overwhelming. Today’s show is about a new and efficient way to keep up with all this cool stuff that’s happening on the Internet.

I’m going to talk about two ways that you can keep up with what’s happening on the Web. There’s the old slow way – Boo. Then, there’s the new and fast way – Yay! Here’s the difference between the new and the old way.

This is you, and here are your favorite websites. You log on to your computer, and you’re looking for something new. You go out to your favorite blogs. Anything new? No. You go out to your favorite news sites. Anything new? Nope. Every time you look for something new and its not there, you’ve wasted valuable time. This is the old way.

Now, let’s consider the new and fast way, which is simply taking these arrows and turning them the other direction. This means the new things from blogs and new things from your news sites come to you instead. It’s like Netflix compared to the video store.

So, what we’re talking about is using a single website that becomes your home for reading all the new stuff that’s coming from your favorite websites. There are two steps to getting started.

The first step is you need a home for reading new posts. This is a website called a reader. It is free and all you need is an account. I use a site called Google Reader. It looks like this. My favorite sites are listed on the left, and on the right I can scroll through all the new posts from my favorite sites in a single place. So, to complete step one, you need to sign up for a reader. Google Reader, Bloglines, Newsgator, My Yahoo! are good places to start.

Step number two, is to set up a connection between your reader and your favorite websites. Setting up these connections is called subscribing, and it’s really important. Nearly every blog and news site offers the ability for you to subscribe so updates in these sites show up here in your reader.

To set up these subscriptions, you just need to look for funny little icons. This is the standard one using the standard orange color. You may also see these. These little icons say, “Hey look! Subscribe to me! I can save you time!” Once you find one of these buttons on your favorite site, click on it and the page that appears will give you everything you need to subscribe.

After you click that button, one of two types of pages will appear. This is one that provides one click access to subscribing in your reader. The other page you’re likely to see looks like this – with code on it. If you see this page, copy the address at the top of the page, go to your reader and look for a link that says “Add Subscription” or “Add Feed.” Click on that, and paste the address into your reader.

So, once you’ve added your subscriptions and the connection is there, new posts begin arriving in your reader and you’ll see why this is the new, faster way to read the web. It’s addictive, so be careful!

A quick recap. There are two things you need to do. Number one is go sign up for a reader. Number two, go to your favorite websites, click on the icon and subscribe.

I’m Lee LeFever and this has been RSS in Plain English on the Common Craft Show.

Did you like this video? You can check out more “in Plain English” videos by Common Craft at their site: Thank you Common Craft!