RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It's an older technology which allows applications to access websites in a machine-readable way to get updates. This allows you to follow everything that you want to follow in one application and to get the updates without having to visit each site. It's super useful for following updates on personal sites and blogs not hosted on a specific social media. It's an open file format, which means no one company can own it.
What can you do with it?
As mentioned above, it's used for getting updates. What sort of updates?
- Blog updates
- Webcomic updates
- New fics posted to a specific tag on AO3
- KilltheNewsletter (technically uses ATOM another feed standard but shhhhh)
- Follow social media accounts for platforms where you don't have an account (mostly Fediverse or web 1.0 social media)
- Update your own website automatically from other sources
You can also provide updates to your own blog, website, gallery, etc, by providing an RSS fee.
Okay, I'm sold. Where do I get the updates?
In short, you need an RSS reader. There's lots of freemium RSS apps and people like them for different reasons, but it's also possible that you're using another software or service that has the ability to be a feed reader and you had no idea!
A free, open-source email client that also allows you to follow RSS feeds.
This free, open source ebook management software (with plug-ins that allow you to turn fanfics into ebooks), also has a feed reader. It's listed as at the "news" option.
On Dreamwidth, you can add RSS feeds to have them show up on your Reading page. (Be aware that your reading list is public.)
Both the web and desktop versions of Outlook support RSS feeds. I don't actually use Outlook outside of work, so I'm not certain if the mobile app supports them or not.
Firefox & Chrome Extensions
I don't have a specific suggestion here, but I did some googling and both browsers have a myriad of RSS reader extensions.
Didn't Google kill RSS?
Well. No. But not for lack of trying. Google had a very popular RSS reader that they killed, and with that (and other sites like twitter stopping support for it), RSS has fallen out of public awareness. But it still exists! And it's still useful! And it's something that corporations can't take from us!
The best part of RSS is that it's a decentralized protocol, so we can do whatever we want with it. I firmly believe that fandom needs to embrace RSS as one tool in our arsenal take back our place on the web.
Find an RSS reader you like, and start subscribing to RSS feeds today!