First of all, what is RSS? It stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary; syndicating means republishing an article that comes from another source such as a website. An RSS is a means of publicising updates about websites. It may or may not include a summary and photos of the latest posting. But those that provide summaries (thus Rich Site Summary) allow users to skim through the article so that they can decide later on if they want to access the website source. The RSS feed usually contains the title of the update originating from the website. It is also usually the link to the website source.
RSS gives benefits to both readers (users) and web publishers. It gives you the latest updates, whether it is about the weather, new music, software upgrade, local news, or a new posting from a rarely-updated site as soon as it comes out.
- Since an RSS feed provides a summary of the related article, it saves the user’s time by helping s/he decide on which items to prioritise when reading or browsing the net.
- It gives the power of subscription to the user. Users are given a free-hand on which websites to subscribe in their RSS aggregators which they can change at any time they decide differently.
- It lessens the clutter in your inbox. Although your email address will be required to enjoy the services of online RSS aggregators, RSS does not use your email address to send the updates.
- It is spam free. Unlike email subscriptions, RSS does not make use of your email address to send updates thus your privacy is kept safe from spam mails.
- Unsubscribing is hassle-free. Unlike email subscriptions where the user is asked questions on why s/he is unsubscribing and then the user would be asked to confirm unsubscribing, all you have to do is to delete the RSS feed from your aggregator.
- It can be used as an advertising or marketing tool. Users who subscribe or syndicate product websites receive the latest news on products and services without the website sending spam mail. This is advantageous to both the web user and the website owner since advertising becomes targeted; those who are actually interested in their products are kept posted.
- Some users prefer receiving email updates over an RSS feed.
- Graphics and photos do not appear in all feeds. For conciseness and ease of publication, feeds do not display the photos from the original site in announcing the update except for some web-based aggregators
- The identity of the source website can be confusing. Since RSS feeds do not display the actual URL or name of the website, it can sometimes get confusing on what feed a user is actually reading.
- Publishers cannot determine how many users are subscribed to their feed and the frequency of their visits. Moreover, they would not know the reasons why users unsubscribe which could be important in improving their advertising.
- The feeds create higher traffic and demands on the server. Most readers still prefer the whole update over a brief summary of the entry, thus they still access the site.