RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. With an RSS reader, users can simply add subscription links and the reader will automatically fetch the content of articles that support RSS. In the era when personal websites and blogs were popular, RSS readers made it convenient for users to quickly fetch content from various websites, avoiding the hassle of visiting each website separately, and aggregating media content for a better user experience. However, with the development of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Weibo, and public accounts, creators have gradually shifted to social media platforms with lower technical barriers and larger traffic. These platforms usually do not provide RSS subscription services, causing RSS to gradually fade out of people's sight. In July 2013, Google was the first to stop its Google Reader service, which was lamentable. Although RSS is no longer popular among the general public, I still consider it as one of the important sources of information, and this article is also my sharing of RSS usage.
Reasons for choosing RSS:
- Avoid recommendation algorithms and focus on what you care about. When you open Twitter or TikTok, you may get lost in the terrible recommendation algorithms while browsing casually. By using an RSS reader, you can focus on the information you want to read. RSS readers (non-RSS subscription service software) are simple fetching tools that only fetch the content you subscribe to, without using recommendation algorithms to attract your attention. You can quickly browse through articles and then close the software to focus on your real work.
- Unified reading experience, focusing on the content itself. Different social media platforms have different UI designs and text layouts, and switching between different platforms can be a disjointed experience. With an RSS reader, although the content may not be fully restored in terms of layout, the way they are presented is consistent regardless of where they come from, all determined by the RSS reader. You may think that the reading interface is not beautiful, but you will pay more attention to the content itself. (Excellent RSS readers can even provide a better reading experience)
- No need to switch software, more efficient content acquisition. As mentioned in the introduction, one of the biggest advantages of RSS is its aggregation reading function. By subscribing to links (not all websites and software support this), you can fetch content from different websites or software into the reader for unified reading. This avoids the trouble of users needing to open different software or visit websites one by one.
Shortcomings of RSS:
- Delayed article delivery. RSS fetching has a frequency and cannot fetch the latest content in real time. It may not be suitable for time-sensitive information such as news or promotions.
- Major platforms do not provide RSS services. In the current era where traffic protection is emphasized, social media platforms and media outlets hope to keep traffic in their own hands and attract more users. To protect their content, platforms like WeChat have strict anti-crawling measures to prevent their content from being stolen by others, causing traffic loss. Therefore, RSS is inherently opposed to social media, so don't expect major platforms like Weibo and WeChat to provide native RSS support.
- Not conducive to the discovery of new content. Although the recommendation algorithms of social media platforms can steal a lot of users' time, they do provide useful information and help users discover high-quality content.
- Certain learning curve. RSS has better support for foreign news. If you want to read more diverse content, you need to have the "ability to take action," such as being able to access Google.
Choose the right RSS tool:
RSS subscription tools can be broadly divided into two categories: service-based RSS readers and local RSS readers.
Service-based RSS readers:
Represented by Feedly, Inoreader, NewsBlur, etc., users need to register an account on the website or software, and the website will fetch the content and push it to your software. These software have several advantages:
- Easy to get started. You can start using them after registering, and the built-in search function allows you to find most common subscription content, making it beginner-friendly.
- Multi-device synchronization. By using the same account, you can synchronize your subscription content on different devices, avoiding the hassle of repeated subscriptions. Many local RSS readers also provide access to services such as Feedly and Inoreader.
- Convenient search for new subscription content. Service-based software aggregates a large amount of subscription information and allows you to directly search and subscribe to content you are interested in through their search services.
- Discovery of new content. The development of service-based software is becoming more platform-oriented and they will recommend high-quality content to you.
- More features. For example, Feedly provides newsletter subscription and Twitter subscription functions (paid).
Local RSS readers:
Local RSS software, such as Reeder 5 and NetNewsWire on Mac/iOS, FeedMe, Feeder, Focus on Android, and Feedbro, Fluent Reader on Windows, usually require users to manually enter subscription links or import subscription lists for subscription and fetch content on local devices. However, most software now also support syncing subscription content with accounts such as Feedly and Inoreader, or logging into self-deployed RSS services.
Local RSS readers have their advantages:
- Cleaner interface. Compared to using clients of Feedly or Inoreader, software like Reeder can provide a cleaner and more beautiful interface, eliminating annoying ads.
- Local RSS subscription. For some unclear reasons, subscribing to content through Feedly or Inoreader may fail, but direct local RSS subscription can succeed. The advantage of local subscription is that it can bypass the problem of Feedly being inaccessible in mainland China, but the disadvantage is that the content of local subscription needs to be directly accessible in China.
- More diverse subscription methods. In addition to local subscription, many RSS readers now support integration with services such as Feedly and Inoreader, and can also log in to self-deployed RSS services such as Tiny Tiny RSS.
Local RSS readers have their drawbacks:
- Simple design. Local RSS readers like Reeder have a clean and beautiful UI design, favored by many iOS users, but the $5 price tag has deterred many users. Although the free and open-source NetNewsWire also has complete functions, its simple design and less comfortable operation make it less appealing than the commercial software Feedly and Inoreader.
- Limited content for local subscription. If you cannot access Google, you are likely unable to fetch content that cannot be directly accessed through local readers.
To sum up, if you want to quickly get started with RSS and have a good experience, you need to have the ability to access Google.
Getting RSS subscription links:
Based on my own experience, there are three main ways to obtain RSS subscription links:
- Official websites directly provide RSS subscription links. For example, on the website of TechNode, the RSS subscription link is directly provided in the lower right corner of the website. You can simply copy and add it to your reader. This method is suitable for blogs and major news platform websites.
- Use the search function of service-based RSS readers. For example, in Feedly, you can directly search for the content you want to subscribe to using keywords.
- Make good use of RSSHub services. Based on the fact that most information cannot be subscribed to via RSS, Chinese developers have created this RSS generator. With the joint efforts of the open-source community, various strange websites now support RSS subscription, such as Bilibili and Weibo.
For example, subscribing to Bilibili using RSSHub:
- Go to the RSSHub website,
https://docs.rsshub.app, and click on Routes-Social Media-Bilibili to view the usage instructions.
- Taking "#UP 主投稿" as an example, the route style is
/bilibili/user/video/:uid/:disableEmbed?. Combining the example mentioned above,
https://rsshub.app/bilibili/user/video/2267573, we can deduce that the subscription link should at least be
:uidneeds to be found on the Bilibili official website.
For example, taking 影视飓风 (Hurricane Film and Television) as an example, we enter the personal space page of 影视飓风，and the URL displayed is
946974 is the
Therefore, the RSS link for subscribing to the videos of 影视飓风 is
https://rsshub.app/bilibili/user/video/946974, which can be added to the RSS reader.
- Using the RSSHub service can directly generate most RSS links, but some websites require self-deployment. The specific deployment method can be found in the official tutorial of RSSHub,