Embracing RSS readers for all my online reading has been the best possible decision during a time when I had to run a few projects simultaneously and needed a way to keep my information sources organized.
RSS readers are one of the best apps to have in your toolbox as they’re incredibly flexible and can assist in any activity.
RSS 101. What is it?
This one is for the uninitiated. RSS derives from Really Simple Syndication and has been around since the creation of the Internet as we know and love it today.
Through RSS, users are able to follow content from numerous sites simultaneously and in real-time.
Using an RSS reader, you can subscribe to a site’s RSS feed and syndicate new posts as soon as they’re published. Each new post is then displayed in a chronological timeline so that you’re able to catch up with all your favorite sites with a quick browse.
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There are many RSS feed readers out on the market ranging in price and capabilities based on what you need them for.
How to Use an RSS Feed Reader?
If you’ve never used an RSS feed reader, don’t worry. The tool is fairly intuitive and every RSS reader operates by the same basic principles:
- Choose a site you’d like to follow and subscribe to its RSS feeds, which are XML files in the site’s source code. Since RSS is not quite as popular, you might have to dig around to find the RSS feed (or even generate one yourself). Some RSS readers can automatically detect an RSS feed like Inoreader’s browser extension.
- Posts appear within minutes of their publication in chronological order. You click on each article to view its content.
- Articles and other text-based posts will either be displayed in full or will feature an excerpt and then redirect you to the site.
- RSS readers have evolved in the past decade to include a lot more than blogs, news sites, and forums – there’s support for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, podcasts, newsletters, and YouTube.
You Can Explore the Best on the Web
Quality of content is a primary concern. What am I reading? Can I trust the friend who shared an article with me to have done their research? What about the random article that’s popped up in my feed? There’s so much personal responsibility involved.
RSS feed readers only display the information you’ve chosen, so there’s that certainty that you won’t see anything of dubious quality.
You Can Personalize Your Profile
You can do just about anything with your RSS feed reader depending on what you need it for and how much you can pay for extra features.
But that doesn’t mean you need to spend money for your reader to be useful. Most readers have a lot of filtering and organizational features from tags to labels to folders and commands.
You Can Save Time by Browsing
Time wasted on browsing is also significantly reduced. RSS feed readers are fully automated so you don’t need to do any manual checks on whether new content has been published.
Because you syndicate from multiple sources, you also cut out the process of jumping from site to site.
Browsing for fresh content is also immediately solved as most readers have their own database of popular feeds and collections available to users.
Feedly and Inoreader are the best examples of the efficacy of research when you have the most subscribed feeds across topics like news, business and technology all neatly displayed.
You Do Not Receive Spam From Other Websites
Spam comes in many forms. The most popular, which is also a trend that shows no sign of ever dying off, is the pop-up ad. I absolutely hate visiting a site to read an article and having to go through at least two pop-ups to get to the content.
No, I don’t want to enable notifications from your site. I don’t want to subscribe to your newsletter and I certainly don’t want your free white paper or tutorial. I just want to read your article.
There are no pop-ups in RSS feed readers. You’re receiving the content without any bells and whistles.
There’s also the spam from having to deal with ads, which up until now could be circumvented by adblockers, but now websites lock content until you’ve whitelisted the site… My answer – either don’t bother or add it to your RSS feed reader.
You Have Everything in One Place
You don’t have to work in a research-heavy line of work to appreciate the convenience of the RSS feed reader. The organization has never been easier and you only have to open one application to view it all.
That’s perhaps the most valuable feature of RSS feed readers. You have every type of media and publication together.
Modern RSS reader apps have offline modes as well, which makes it even easier to check in on all subscriptions whenever you need to browse articles whether you’re on a flight or on a getaway in the wilderness.
You Receive Only the Things You Want
Say goodbye to distractions. I have a great weakness when it comes to social media, which makes my Facebook and Twitter timelines terrible for my concentration in the long run.
I easily open ten-fifteen tabs with random articles, which are far from relevant and a time sink. RSS readers keep your feed trimmed from distractions. What you view is what you want to see.
RSS keeps you focused and involved with what you’re reading in a meaningful way. If you’re a procrastinator, I heartily recommend RSS as a productivity tool to stay on target and always meet your deadlines.
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