Recently I was asked this question:
Why do I see gibberish when I click on the Subscribe (RSS Feed) link? What’s up with that?
Hopefully, there are more people with the same question who will find this short article useful.
What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.
It’s a simple way for websites to publish their content to the world. And it’s a simple way for you, as a consumer of information published by these websites, to consume this information.
If you have a few favorite websites that you check for new articles on a regular basis, then RSS can help you. You can subscribe to RSS Feeds from all your favorite websites and then you don’t have to check them individually. You can read all your subscribed RSS Feeds in one central place.
But I see gibberish when I click on the Subscribe (the RSS Feed) link!
RSS Feeds are typically denoted by a square orange icon showing radio wave (). You can see it in the menu bar above. If you click on it, depending on your browser, you may see what appears to be gibberish. This ain’t gibberish. This is how the actual code for the RSS Feed looks like and computers drool over such well-structured information.
For example, it will look like gibberish in Chrome:
But FireFox is a little smarter and can display the RSS Feed a little better:
And Safari is probably the best at displaying an RSS Feed:
You need an RSS Reader to subscribe to, and read, RSS Feeds
You see, simply clicking on the RSS Feed link (the Subscribe link) is not sufficient. You have to add the RSS Feed link to your RSS Reader.
But don’t worry — there are plenty of free RSS Readers available.
There are RSS Readers that you can download and install on your computer. And there are web-based RSS Readers too. My preference is to use a web-based RSS Reader provided by google.
Just hop on over to http://reader.google.com and create a free account (or sign-in if you have an existing Google account).
You can add RSS Feed links to your Google RSS Reader. The RSS Reader then becomes the central place where you can read all your subscribed articles. The RSS Reader also shows you the number of unread articles within your feeds.
So go ahead. Get an RSS Reader. And subscribe to RSS Feeds from websites that you visit regularly.
You will be glad you did!