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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blog / Blogging Tips

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About RSS / Atom feeds (Blog Tips, Blogging Tips, Make Money Through Blog)

It’s quite likely that you usually read other blogs (and if you don’t, you certainly should). Maybe some are by friends of yours, or by people you admire, or about something that interests you and that you want to stay informed about. Maybe you do it to get news, or for inspiration for your own writings, or to participate in stimulating discussions.

But if you visit more than half a dozen blogs regularly, it probably starts getting a little cumbersome. If it’s 20 blogs or more, you’re probably already going insane. :)

It gets worse - many blogs are written irregularly, and don’t have new stuff for several days in a row. But if you have to visit that blog manually, all you’re achieving is boredom: “yawn… still nothing new here.” On the other hand, some blogs may be updated more often, and it’s possible that you want to see the new entries as they’re written, not just once a day. So, after a while, you have to remember that blogs 1, 3, 7, 11, 13 to 18 and 19 are to be checked more than once a day, while blogs 2, 4, 5 and 12 have new stuff daily, and 6, 8 to 10 are more irregular and can be checked weekly.

Annoying, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be better if you could subscribe to blogs, and have a central place where you could see only what’s new (if anything) in each one?

Well, you can do exactly that, with something called an RSS aggregator.

Some of the links on the right sidebar (on the main page) are links for subscribing to this very blog on several popular aggregators, like Bloglines (my favorite), My Yahoo and My MSN (both have RSS aggregation), Newsgator, CompleteRSS… But those links are only there to save time. You could simply fire up (if it’s an installed program) or surf to (if it’s an online one) your favorite aggregator, and subscribe to this site’s feed, by typing “http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheTlog” there. And, then, you can see everything that’s new about this blog - and add other blogs, all in a central place, which simply tells you “this is new in blog 3, this and this and this are new in blog 6, and other blogs don’t have anything new since you last checked.”

What’s an RSS feed, anyway? Well, it’s basically your site / blog, but in another, stricter format, less readable by humans, but much easier to parse by computer programs - a format which every RSS reader can interpret and display. While it’s not trivial for a program to check a site and see what’s new - since every site may be based on a different software engine, or even use none at all, but be manually written -, with RSS (and Atom) that problem doesn’t exist - a program can read exactly what’s there, separate it by articles, get the titles, dates, authors and so on.

So, you’ve just learned what an RSS feed is, and why they’re useful. Next (on part 8 of the series), we’ll be looking at how to have your blog supply one.

Blog / Blogging Tips

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Mohit Gupta, mohit gupta
Mohit Gupta
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