General Articles Right AboutRight All about RSS Feeds

Article © Julian Dignall, uploaded July 25, 2010.

What are RSS feeds?
RSS feeds allow you to see when web sites have added new content. You can get the latest updates, article synopsis, pictures and even video in one place, as soon as its published, without having to visit all the web sites you have subscribed to the feed from. The basic idea is that you collect all the feeds from your favourite sites and view them in one place. It's essentially a personal digest of your favourite content delivered to one place. At the bottom of this article I've also included a video on this topic.

There is some discussion as to what RSS actually stands for, but most take it to mean 'Really Simple Syndication'. In essence, the feeds themselves are just simple web pages, designed to be read by computer software rather than people. Look for the orange feed symbol (RSS feed icon) which usually denotes a link to the feed and is your first step to subscribing to one. This article covers the initial questions you may have surrounding their use and is broken down into the following sections:

How do I start using feeds?
Nowadays, all good browsers support feeds. Email applications like Microsoft Outlook 2007 and similar also have good support for them. Google have their own web based reader and indeed there are a swathe of apps for your favourite mobile device. In general, these check the feeds you have subscribed to and let you read any new items that have been added. These are not just limited to your computer and can also be accessed on the move via your phone or other mobile device.

Browser-based news readers let you catch up with your RSS feed subscriptions from any computer, whereas downloadable applications let you store them on your main computer, in the same way that you either download your e-mail using Outlook, or keep it on a web-based service like Hotmail.

Once you have chosen one or more news readers, all you have to do is to decide what content you want it to receive. For example, if you would like the latest updates to the cat-elog, simply add the url from the main site page to your reader. Remember you can add feeds from all your favourite sites, but for ease of reference, the standard PlanetCatfish feeds are listed below.

URL of Feed for Reader (Select & copy) Content of Feed Link to Feed
Latest forum posts feed icon
Latest Cat-eLog image updates RSS feed icon
Latest article updates RSS feed icon

If you click on the orange feed button you can subscribe to the feed in various ways, including by dragging the URL of the feed into your news reader or by cutting and pasting the same URL into a new feed in your news reader. Most sites that offer feeds use the orange button or something similar, but some may just have a normal web link.

All major browsers automatically check for feeds for you when you visit a web site, and display an icon when they find one. This can make subscribing to feeds much easier. For more details on these, please check your browsers web site - but quickly look at the browser for an orange icon as shown above, click on it and you should be there. If you use Micrsoft Outlook 2007 or later, you can subscribe to feeds within your email folder structure conveniently bringing feeds and email to the one place.

How do I get a news reader?
As mentioned above, the easiest way to read feeds is via your browser or email software. However, if you really want a separate application to read your feeds, there is a range of different news readers available and new versions are appearing all the time. Different news readers work on different operating systems, so you will need to choose one that will work with your computer. We currently like FeedReader, but you may also want to try FeedZilla or just look up Wikipedia for many more options.

Using PlanetCatfish feeds on your site
If you run your own web site, you can display the latest content from other web sites on your own site using RSS. We encourage the use of our feeds as part of another web site, however, we do require that the proper format and attribution is used when PlanetCatfish content appears. The attribution text should read "". We reserve the right to prevent the distribution of PlanetCatfish content and we do not accept any liability for our feeds.

Can I create my own feeds?
It is possible to create your own feeds from the forum, perhaps just focusing on specific sections you are interested in. We don't yet have the facility to create feeds for other sections of the site, but we're open to suggestions! Use this page to build your own custom forum feed.

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