RSS: It Really is Simple


RSS Logo.jpgYou may have heard about RSS feeds lately - what with Merlin coming and all. But if you aren't too familiar with the acronym, which translates to "Really Simple Syndication." We are here to help

In a nutshell, RSS is an XML-based document format for the syndication of web content.  XML is an acronym for "Extensible Markup Language."   XML is a set of rules used to electronically code documents so that they can be used for RSS feeds.

If you want your content - a blog, for example - to be available to users anywhere other than your own website, you'll want to understand RSS and how it can help you achieve this goal.

To put your content into an RSS file, you need to have three basic pieces of information:

  • Title - this is the title of your content such as a program name (The Philly Food Show) or blog name (WOSU Art Blog)
  • Description - This is a description that best describes the content. It is best to be as concise as possible since many sites limit the information that comes through with a feed (including Merlin). Example description for The Philly Food Show: Take a culinary tour of the entire Delaware Valley - from Philadelphia cheese steaks, to Jersey tomatoes.
  • Link - This is pretty self-explantory. This is the link to your content's web page.  Example: http://www.wosu.org/blogs/arts

Putting your content into this XML format enables the content to be recognized by varying web platforms. Once your content is deciphered, it can be republished on other web sites or downloaded by users who use different operating systems.  For example, if you have a blog post that is published in Dreamweaver, that content can be formatted in XML for an RSS feed that would be picked up and published on a site that is built in Moveable Type. 

Now that you have a basic understanding of what RSS is and does, you'll need to do some heavy lifting.  You can have the greatest feed in the world but if that feed isn't spitting out great content, you won't lure in your audience.  Taking a long, hard look at your content is really essential.

As Project Merlin moves forward, it has become more and more imperative that your station carefully review the content you want to share with the rest of the system.  Does your content tell a good story? Is it timely and relevant? Is it clear and compelling to wide audiences without having to provide a lot of context? These are all important questions to ask when deciding the best strategy to showcase your content.

Once you know you have the best content to share, you're ready to push your content to RSS and share it with the world!

For more resources and information about RSS feeds, strategizing content, and Project Merlin, here are some helpful links to explore:

Merlin Resource Center on the SRC
Wikipedia's RSS Page
http://www.rssboard.org/

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