On the World Wide Web, a web feed (or news feed) is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content. Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe a channel to it. Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation, which is performed by a news aggregator. A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed.
A typical scenario of web-feed use might involve the following: a content provider publishes a feed link on its site which end users can register with an aggregator program (also called a feed reader or a news reader) running on their own machines; doing this is usually as simple as dragging the link from the web browser to the aggregator. When instructed, the aggregator asks all the servers in its feed list if they have new content; if so, the aggregator either makes a note of the new content or downloads it. One can schedule aggregators to check for new content periodically.
Web feeds exemplify pull technology, although they may appear to push content to the user.
The kinds of content delivered by a web feed are typically HTML (webpage content) or links to webpages and other kinds of digital media. Often when websites provide web feeds to notify users of content updates, they only include summaries in the web feed rather than the full content itself.
Many news websites, weblogs, schools, and podcasters operate web feeds.
Work Web feeds have some advantages compared to receiving frequently published content via an email:
Users do not disclose their email address when subscribing to a feed and so are not increasing their exposure to threats associated with email: spam, viruses, phishing, and identity theft.
Users do not have to send an unsubscribe request to stop receiving news. They simply remove the feed from their aggregator.
The feed items are automatically sorted in that each feed URL has its own sets of entries (unlike an email box where messages must be sorted by user-defined rules and pattern matching).
In its explanation “What is a web feed?”, the publishing group of Nature describes two benefits of web feeds:
It makes it easier for users to keep track of our content…This is a very convenient way of staying up to date with the content of a large number of sites.
It makes it easier for other websites to link to our content. Because RSS feeds can easily be read by computers, it’s also easy for webmasters to configure their sites so that the latest headlines from another site’s RSS feed are embedded into their own pages, and updated automatically.
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