What are Feeds?

A feed is a data source that is periodically updated with new content. You can subscribe to a feed to get updates without having to revisit a website. Feeds are like the "timelines" or "walls" of other social media networks.

We publish feeds in RSS and iCal format. These formats are not trendy or well-known any more, but they are still very useful. This page will help you get started with them.

Unlike social media timelines, you typically get access to all contents published on a feed, without an algorithm hiding content from you. The downside to this is that you have to ignore the stuff you don't want, or use an app that will filter content for you.

RSS - Website Updates

RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication" (or maybe "Rich Site Summary"). It started as a way for people to keep updated on news sites and blog posts. It is still widely used for podcasts.

There is an update to RSS called Atom. There are differences between the two, but for the most part readers that support RSS often support Atom feeds as well.

RSS feeds are often indicated with the following symbol: RSS Symbol

How to use RSS feeds

To make use of an RSS feed you need a feed reader -- a program that subscribes to these feeds and updates its content as the RSS feed changes.

First, you need one or more feeds to subscribe to. For example, you might want to subscribe to the WatCamp RSS feed. To do that you need the address of the feed. For example, for the WatCamp RSS feed, you would use the address https://feeds.off-topic.kwlug.org/feeds/watcamp.rss .

Next, you need software that will interpret your feeds and display the results. There are many, many options available. Here are a few places to start:

iCal - Calendar Events

iCal is a standard for exchanging calendar information. Somewhat confusingly, iCal can be used to share both information about single events ("Add this event to your calendar!") and also feeds of event information that are regularly updated (for example, "Subscribe to upcoming events!"). You want to subscribe to the feeds of updated events.

Some web addresses for iCal feeds begin with http:// or https://. Some servers and programs support "CalDav", which in principle allows two way synchronization of calendars. Those web addresses begin with webcal://. In practice you will probably not synchronize event calendars both ways, so subscribing with https:// URLs is fine.

Using iCal Feeds

As with RSS, you will need a web address of an iCal feed in order to use it with a feed reader. For example, the iCal address for the WatCamp feed is https://www.google.com/calendar/ical/nlkc39jt4p0nbc4pk9pj7p5fh0%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics .