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One Year Anniversary Review: What are Feeds?

As I review this past year’s worth of articles I’ve written, I find that two topics were probably the most life changing for me and many other bloggers: social bookmarking and feeds.

In Don’t You Know What a Feed Is Yet? Get To Know Your Feeds!”, I explain what feeds are:

Feeds are an awesome way to get the news, information, and articles you want from websites, especially blogs, fast and easy. Every day I encounter people who still don’t know what a feed is, or how it might help them.

A feed is another way of viewing web pages. If you are reading this post on this website, with all the layout and graphics intact, there is another way to view this site. Click this link to open a new window or tab to view this site’s feed. Well, at least a readable version of this site’s feed.

You can see the most recent articles in chronological order, without all the graphics, bells, and whistles. You just see the text.

There are programs called “feed readers” which take feed links, like the one above, and add them to a directory or feed list, also known as feed bookmarks. These programs hold your list of feeds and with a click or two, you can quickly move down the list, viewing the updated posts from the feeds on your favorite websites.

I find a lot of inspiration and information for articles on my blogs through my feeds. With exceptionally fast access, I can read through dozens of sites in a few minutes. Because I travel so much, I can get online, run through my feeds, open the ones that interest me, disconnect, and then read them offline.

As with everything, there are good things and bad things about feeds. In “Benefits and Uses of Website Feeds”, I wrote about the benefits of feeds:

For the user, even the website owner/administrator, using feeds is a great way to get information and research for content on your site. The benefits of feeds for users include:

* Fast and easy access to website content from one place, the feed reader.
* No spam, few ads (about to change), and only content and photographs.
* User chooses the sites and content they want.
* User controls what they see and don’t see.
* User sees the most recently updated content without having to prowl around the site.
* Less time searching and hunting for commonly needed information and resources.
* Information is presented in excerpts or full articles, free of styling and heavy-handed site designs and layouts – content and information is the priority.
* Feeds can be limited to the full site or only specific categories or topics of information.
* Access to the site and more information is only a single click away.

For the website owner/administrator, feeds bring major benefits, especially since more and more search engines and directories are accepting feeds submissions.

* Provide fresh and topical information to users, which encourages their return.
* Pushes the administrator to provide new and changing content, which encourages search engine spiders and robots to visit more frequently.
* Replaces email and newsletters to alert users of updates, new content, and other topical information like press releases and events.
* Provides another form of content delivery in addition to the website itself.
* Allows syndication of material from your site to another.

In my article, “Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog”, I listed many resources using feeds to monitor various industries, topics, and blogs, helping you to find something to write about, but also to help you stay on top of your blogging subject and industry.

On the downside of feeds, they are also being used to scrape content or steal content from blogs and use it as their own, since they either have no content, or no interest in content as they just need words to attract search engines and then saturate the content with their spam words and links to sex toys, cheap drugs, useless drugs, cell phone ring tones, or some other snake oil salesman show. These sites are often known as “splogs” or spam blogs. I addressed this issue in “The Growing Trends in Content Theft”:

There is a growing and real concern that site and blog feeds are being used to totally replace any original content. Some crafty website owners are using multiple feeds to pull information from other sites into their own, making it look like the site has an interesting and original collection of content, when it is actually stolen without permission from other sites.

In general, the rise in the use of feeds on websites and blogs seems to be permissible, if only headlines or excerpts are used and not the full post or article content. The issue of content theft arises when this is done without your knowledge or permission using the full content.

For the most part, feeds are one of the more exciting aspects of improvements on the web in the past few years, allowing you to find and process information fast and under your control. If you haven’t experienced the power of feeds, check out some of the articles I’ve written over the past year on feeds and get to know your feeds.

Articles on Feeds

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

One Comment

  1. Posted April 29, 2008 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    Hi Lorelle.

    Is there a way to disable all RSS from a blog i own? i don’t find any use for RSS at all. It only promotes content theft. Even if it is useful, for me the disadvantages outweights the advantages.

    pls. help me disable my blog RSS..all of them.. i really hate rss..thanks in advance..

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