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What is RSS and Atom?

By Charles Hopkins Published 01/17/2007 | Blogs


Syndication is one of the best features of blogging. This helps your blog to get noticed and read more easily, and to make it possible for others to syndicate your blog on their blogs or websites. Syndication occurs with one of two different technologies. The first is RSS, or Really Simple Syndication. RSS also stands for Rich Site Summary and RDF Site Summary. The second is Atom. You can use either technology to make it possible for others to syndicate your blog.

Most people who read various blogs on a daily basis use feed reading software, or aggregators. Examples of these are Feed Demon, Newz Crawler, and Google Reader. These readers often work with web browsers, so that the first time someone visits your blog, they can simply click on an icon that is on their web browser window, and automatically add your blog to their reader. Now, when they want to do their daily blog reading, they simply open their browser, and start the feed software. The feed software shows them which of their favorite blogs have been updated.

The blog software uses XML to make your blog available via RSS. When someone wants to syndicate your blog on their own website, they simply visit your blog, click a little RSS button, and get the XML code to paste into the HTML of their webpage. Now, each time you update your blog, your entry will appear on their site. This is a good thing, as it still shows you or your business name as the author, and it links to your blog.

Atom was developed because there were a lot of problems with RSS. Atom works the same way that RSS works, however, with some differences, but all of those differences are technical in nature, and do not affect your blogging experience. Its really just a matter of what the readers feed reader prefers RSS or Atom, and what a webmaster prefers to use to syndicate your blog.

When one starts trying to understand the technical side of RSS and Atom, it becomes very confusing, unless they already know all of the technical jargon. As a blogger, all you really need to know is that you can choose to make your blog available for syndication, or choose not to. You dont have to understand all of the technical jargon to make it work for you anymore than you need to know a programming language to use software.

You should have a choice as to whether or not your blog can be syndicated. This is usually found in the settings section in the administration area of your blog. If you are blogging for private or personal reasons, you may not want your blog syndicated. However, any business owner should allow their blog to be syndicated for the added exposure syndication brings.

Again, RSS and Atom make it possible for your blog to be more easily accessible and therefore read more often than a static website is. It is a great way to build readership for your blog, and it is something you should definitely make available for your readers.