Article: Receiving newsletters & website content via hassle-free RSS


Dormant account
Jan 18, 2003
At the demand of Brian, I post below the first part of an article we wrote about RSS.

People should wonder why I bug everyone with RSS, it's because I believe in this format as it protects the consumer (so YOU and me ;) ) from SPAM and privacy issues. Aren't you tired when you open your email inbox to read quality newsletters, and have to search for them between all the spam?

PS: The below content is Copyrighted If you want to use some parts, please put the copyright notice at the top of your page/article, or please don't use it at all if you don't want to credit us.

In this article, I will highlight the benefits of RSS compared to email for receiving content and news from sites within your interests.

1) So What Is RSS?

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". It's a revolutionary way to receive news and content from websites. It is still not as widespread as email, but it has millions of users starting to use them. RSS is NOT a replacement of email. Email IS the primary way to communicate with persons via Internet, but RSS may be soon a replacement concerning website news and content delivered via email (such as newsletters etc...).

The major difference, that delivers all the benefits, is that it's the user that queries the content. And not the inverse (you receive the email). This fact instantly eliminates all problems of spam, because nobody apart you can modify what you want to read in your RSS reader. You're in 100% control! And if a RSS feed you just subscribed is not completely what you wanted to read, you just remove it. And you will never see anymore messages from this RSS feed owner.

A "RSS feed" is a file delivering content, to which you subscribe.

The second difference to email, is that there are NO message traveling around the globe to arrive in your email client. An email is a piece of data that will start from a point, be relayed by different servers to finally arrive in your inbox. This solution presents several problems. Spam filters catch lots of innocent emails, and this format increase bandwidth usage for servers, plus it creates lots of administration and technical problems for administrators.

With RSS, there's no message traveling around the globe. Your RSS reader just queries the RSS feed, which is 'just' a file on a website, and shows you all the messages in your RSS reader. So, to resume:

Advantages for users:
- Hassle-free solution, as there are no longer spam problems (some even call RSS as "Really Stop Spam"!) ;
- RSS is private. No need to give your email address or any information about you.
- Convenience of use, as RSS readers provide lots of tools to organize your content (some even find articles that are from the same content and automatically link them) ;
- Easy to use. You just enter the URL of the feed (which is always given by the webmaster) you want to subscribe in your RSS reader ;
- No need to confirm your subscription, and no need to re-subscribe to the content (for example when you change your email address) ;
- You are 100% sure that what you will see in the messages is exactly what the webmaster wants to show you - there are no real format problems like in email clients.
- Very fast to use, as RSS is timely - you get updates as soon as they are published on the websites you're subscribed.

Advantages for site owners:
- RSS assures 100% deliverability of the messages ;
- No longer need to deal with spam lists when you're listed and you don't even know why ;
- Portability: Zero cross-layout problems due to the variety of email clients - a RSS reader will show everything you list and how you want in each messsage ;
- RSS allows you to update your audience as often as you want (no bandwidth problems, or very little, less than web traffic itself)
- Easy to program with simplified XML language ;

Negative points:
- RSS is a one way communication point. So it is actually used only for distribution: newsletters, news, headlines, content, etc...
- Confusion of RSS/XML versions to use for websites owners.

The second part explains how to get started with RSS, which RSS readers to use, etc.

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