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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > What's New > RSS Feeds - a simple guide

A web user

Finding it hard to keep up?

RSS Feeds - a simple guide

Understanding 'RSS' can be difficult, but RSS can make a busy web-surfer's life so much easier. Here we give: an explanation; a how-to guide; and a list of RSS feeds on this site, BBC Stoke & Staffordshire

Do you get your information from the web?

Well, there is more than one way in your busy life to keep up with what is happening on your favourite websites. 
And RSS is probably the best way – but what is RSS??
And how do RSS feeds work on this site?
And, er, HOW do they work?

(When you've read our guide, you can try the RSS feeds we have on this site if you wish - they are listed further down this page).

RSS Feeds – an explanation

When we were first asked to explain RSS, we thought it would be easy, because, well, RSS is really simple to do. 
But we still had to spend a few hours coming up with an explanation!

Imagine it like this. 
There’s a blog you like to check,  there's a listings site you like to check, there’s a fan-site you like to check, and there’s a news-site you like to check etc etc - say, you have twenty or so websites you check each week (or more!). 

But it’s a bore finding the time to log on to all those separate sites, and it’s annoying if you find there’s nothing new there anyway when you eventually log on to them. (And it’s DOUBLY annoying if you find there’s a new story on one of your favourite sites, but it’s already two days old by the time you've checked!)

So… why not... just check ONE web-page every time you want to find out what’s happening on all your favourite sites?!! 
On this page would have a list of links to your favourite sites, but - and this is the BONUS - it also lists any updates on those sites as well (these happen automatically – you don't have to do a thing).

This magic web-page is called your ‘News Reader’ page’, and the sites that appear on it are ones that you have subscribed to via ‘RSS’.

Some RSS readers...

There are a number of ‘readers’. 

Some popular feed readers include Amphetadesk (compatible with Windows, Linux, Mac), FeedReader (Windows), and NewsGator (Windows - but also integrates with Outlook). These work by downloading the RSS updates to a location on your computer.

But the most popular ‘readers' are web-pages that you create – in seconds, really - personalised to your own demands on the web.  There are a number of web-based feed readers available – such as My Yahoo, Bloglines, and Google Reader.

RSS icon/logo

RSS icon

Probably one of the easiest systems is on the Internet Explorer 8 browser.
You simply click the RSS Feeds  icon on any webpage where the logo can be seen (not all webpages have RSS), and Internet Explorer autmatically stores it in your Favourites centre.  You don't have to sign up to anything, and it's painless.
The only slight disadvantage is that the view of each feed is still on its own page, so it STILL means you have to open lots of pages, which is annoying. On systems like Bloglines, all the feeds can be seen on the one page.

**
An Exercise.   Let's try one...

As an example, let’s try Google Reader.  

Go to www.google.com and put the word ‘reader’ in the search bar – the first item up will be ‘Google Reader’ – so click on that…

It will insist you sign up for a GoogleMail e-mail address (you don’t have to use it for anything, it’s more like your ‘identification’ in the My Google system).  If you are okay with that, sign up for an email address.
Having sorted that, go back and find the Google Reader site again.
And there you go… it's magic ... your Reader page - all ready for you!

Now... let's try 'subscribing'; so let's add a page from this website to your reader.

On the Google Reader page, there is an ‘Add a Subscription’ button. Click it.
Copy this text - www.bbc.co.uk/staffordshire/entertainment/index.xml  (this is the RSS feed to our 'Entertainment' menu-page).
Now paste that text into the subscription space, and then click Add (you can remove it later if you wish – click ‘Manage Subscriptions' to remove feeds later). 
And there you are!  Your own RSS Reader page now has its first subscription.

To add more websites, you can also just put a search term in the Add Subscription box. For example, write in ‘BBC Stoke & Staffordshire News’, and the search will find the site for you.

Then... just return to your Reader page each day to see which of your subscribed sites has had an update while you've been snoozing…

Obviously, other readers are available.  Try out My Yahoo or Bloglines too if you want to experiment. The procedure is roughly the same.
if you have other suggestions, please use the messageboard below.

But don't just trust us. Have a look at the links below for other explanations:-

RSS feeds on BBC Stoke & Staffordshire

Only four of the pages on BBC Stoke & Staffs have an RSS feed – our main Faith page, our main Entertainment page, and of course our News and our Sport main pages.

Please try them. Just put the these pieces of text into the 'subscription' box:

For our Entertainment menu page:-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/staffordshire/entertainment/index.xml

For our Faith menu page:-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/staffordshire/faith/index.xml

For our News menu page:- http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/newsonline_uk_edition/england/
staffordshire/rss.xml

For our Sport menu page -:
http://newsrss.bbc.co.uk/rss/sportonline_uk_edition/england
/stoke_and_staffordshire/rss.xml

Feedback

Have fun! 

And... please let us know if this explanation can be corrected or bettered - or if you have another method altogether, or tell us what your favourite reader is, or you have links to other explanations...   Just use the messageboard below. 
Please include your email address in your message. We will NOT publish it (for privacy reasons) - but we may want to get back to you to ask you something. Thanks!!

last updated: 23/06/2009 at 11:28
created: 19/06/2009

Have Your Say

Tell us your thoughts about RSS

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

RSS is like fresh food
I tried to explain RSS to my grandma (yes, she uses it now!!) - like this.
Suppose you like really fresh food, and your usual method is to walk round to each favourits shop to buy your ...fruit, your meat, your herbs, your bread --- and so on. Well RSS is like having the shops (every time they get a new delivery) each sending round a van to your house and all lining up outside waiting for you to come out and take your pick of the new stuff!
Well, thsi worked for grandma!

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