What is RSS?
RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication". Syndication allows you to subscribe to a website, such as a weblog or news site, not by email but via a "reader" program. This provides an alternative way to read new entries. Instead of you manually bringing up a page in your browser in order to read it, your reader program checks the site at pre-programmed times and alerts you if there is new material.
There are many readers available, both in desktop applications and online (through the web) versions. A reader is also sometimes called a News Aggregator. If you're looking for a reader, go to versiontracker, choose your platform (Mac OS X, Windows) and enter "RSS" in the search box. (If you're using Mac OS X, I recommend Vienna.)
How Do I Use It?To subscribe to a site, you first need a reader. Then, locate the "Subscribe..." or "Syndicate..." link(s) on the site. If such a link is available, it will usually be toward the bottom of the page, in the "navigation" column. Often, the link will be labeled "XML" or "RSS", or it may look like a little button, e.g.: .
Right-click one of the links select "Copy link location" [(in Mozilla/Firefox); "Copy shortcut" (Internet Explorer); or "Copy link" (Safari)...]. Then open your reader application and select Add New Feed. Paste the copied link into the input box. Your reader will now be subscribed to the site. It should update automatically whenever there are new entries at the site.
If you're (still) confused, it may help to read Dave Taylor's essay or this article from Six Apart. RSS isn't really complicated; it's just wrapped in Jargon and mystique. :-) Once you start using it, you'll find that it's actually very simple. You may even wonder how you got along without it.
If you want to practice, my weblog is "syndicated". Scroll down to the bottom and look on the left-hand side. Find the link that says "Subscribe to this site's feed (RSS/XML)". Right-click, copy the link, and paste it into your reader program.