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What is a RSS?

A reader writes,

Brad great site. I visit here every day at work to make sure I’m not missing out on any new content you post and had a question. I’ve noticed that almost every blog has an orange speaker icon that they refer to as an RSS and encourage people to subscribe to. I’m not a computer whiz, but what is this, should I be using it and how can it help me learn to invest? Do you subscribe to the RSS of other sites?

What is RSS?

RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication and is used to deliver content found on internet sites that publish news, posts or other frequently updated information. Basically it’s a format to display information that allows authors (like myself) to send content to readers (like you) through email or a reader platform (Google Reader, My Yahoo, etc) so that you don’t need to visit a large collection of sites daily in order to see what new content is being published.

Benefits/Uses:

Let’s walk through an example. I’m an Associate Member of The DIV-Net which is a collection of authors who publish content on value and dividend investing. There are currently 16 authors and visiting each of those sites on a daily basis would be very time consuming. An RSS reader allows a frequent visitor of each site to subscribe to the rich site summary (RSS) and organizes updated information automatically so it’s much easier to navigate and read.

Each time an author publishes a post the RSS reader updates that information and the post appears in full or summary form for you to read.

How can RSS feeds help investors?

Assume for a moment that you read anywhere from 20-30 websites or blogs that publish content on investing. Using a RSS reader would allow you to keep track of updates on each site in one organized location rather than visiting each site daily at different times. You can access the content for comments or further reading now or later and browse topics quickly to decide what new content is worth reading now or what content you might want to read later at your own convenience.

If you have a Google Account setting up RSS feeds is quick & simple. Go to http://www.google.com/reader and log in. There are abundant readers you can use and each one has different features. I use Google Reader because I have a concentrated list of content I track.

Once logged in all you need to do is click “Add a subscription” and enter either the web address of the site you want to track, the url of the RSS feed or search a subject like “dividend investing”. Nearly all popular sites now have RSS as a feature so adding content is very quick and easy.

Ten popular sites whose feeds I subscribe to:

  • Barel Karsan
  • Canadian Capitalist
  • Dividend Growth Investor
  • Dividends4Life
  • Million Dollar Journey
  • Old School Value
  • Quest For Four Pillars
  • The Dividend Guy Blog
  • the moneygardener
  • Thicken My Wallet

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{ 2 comments… add one }
  • MG (moneygardener) January 24, 2009, 7:48 pm

    Good summary. i always thought it stood for ‘real simple syndication’…

  • Nurseb911 January 24, 2009, 9:37 pm

    There’s a bunch of definitions online for what RSS stands for. I asked a software friend of mine what the real definition was and that’s the response I got when he quoted a university textbook of his.

    Maybe he didn’t pay as much attention in that class as he should have (haha)

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