A feed (often called RSS) is a stream of posts or comments that is updated when new content is published. This is very useful, as it allows other people to monitor your blog, along with other websites they are interested in, and aggregate them together through applications known as feed readers, like WordPress.com Reader or RSSOwl. This is particularly useful to keep track of updated content from many blogs and sites without even visiting them. The content comes to you!
Every WordPress.com blog has multiple feeds. The main content feed can be accessed by adding /feed/ to your blog’s URL.
Advantages of Feeds
There are a number of them. Here are a few:
- If you have 10 friends who have blogs, then you will need to visit those blogs to view any updated content. If you have a feed reader, it can check those 10 blogs every hour (or whenever you want), let you know when any have been updated, and provide you with the new content.
- If you are on slower internet connection, you don’t have to visit multiple blogs and load all of their information individually. Your reader will deliver only the latest content to you.
- You can have constant searches. If you go to the web-based blog aggregators you can search inside their feeds. Let’s say you have an interest in ‘Dr Pepper’. You could search for that – and the results page will have a feed. If you load that feed into your reader then you will have a constant search for ‘Dr Pepper’ at that site. Additionally you can usually set up a reader to watch for words in all the feeds it gets too.
- If your feed reader provides archiving functionality, you can easily keep information for future reference. For example, if you read something in a feed and, a few days later, you need that article again, your feed reader should be able to locate it.
Subscribing to Feeds
Subscribing to a feed is very easy and only requires a feed reader. Most browsers can already read feeds, as can many email clients. In addition, you can download special desktop clients for this purpose, and other websites even provide feed reading services, as well.
If prompted to enter an address for a feed you should enter the URL of the website you wish to follow. Most readers will automatically detect the feed, but, if in doubt, add /feed/ to the end of the URL.
The reader that you use, however, in entirely your call, and the process of subscribing will be different for each. Click here for a list of feed readers that you can use.
Types of Feeds
There are several different types of feeds – there is RSS .92, RSS 2.0, Atom .3, Atom 1. Does it matter? To us – not really, although someone who has a technical interest in feeds may state otherwise. But if you are the average user, don’t worry about it.
The following examples are feeds from the Official WordPress.com Blog. To use these with your own blog, just replace en.blog.wordpress.com with your own domain.
As well as providing a feed for your post content, WordPress.com also provides several other types for your blog:
- Main Content: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/feed/
- Comments: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/comments/feed/
- Category: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/category/features/feed/ (“Features” is the category.)
- Tag: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/tag/themes/feed/ (“Themes” is the tag.)
- Authors: http://en.blog.wordpress.com/author/matt/feed/ (“matt” is the username of the author.)
If you wish to get the Atom version of any of these feeds, simply add /atom/ to the end of the above URLs.
If there is a particular post that catches your eye, you can subscribe to its comments by adding /feed/ to the end of its URL. Here is an example:
Note: You can also use our Follow Comments feature if you don’t feel like adding a post’s feed to your reader and/or wish to have updates e-mailed to you.
You can control your WordPress.com blog’s feed settings via some options contained within Settings -> Reading. These options/settings are explained here.
Someone reading your posts via a feed will not count towards your blog statistics. However, you still can view the number of syndicated views on each of your blog posts. To do so, go to the Stats tab on the WordPress.com homepage and once there look for the Top Posts & Pages module:
You will see a little magnifying glass icon next to each number in the Views column. Click on the icon next to any post to see the number of syndicated views.
The graph for that particular post will appear, and you will see that it is divided into On-site views and Syndicated views:
As mentioned above, a feed is a stream of data meant to interpreted by a feed reader, like WordPress.com Reader or RSSOwl. Not all browsers have the capability to interpret feeds, and one of the most popular browsers lacking this feature is Google Chrome.
Users of Chrome and other similar browsers will notice a “This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below.” error followed by the raw feed. This is normal, as Chrome was not built to interpret feeds. Instead, subscribe to the feed in a real feed reader, or install the RSS Subscription Extension.