Ok I understand what rss is. Basically some sites offer an rss feed that users can subscribe to for free or a price (its up to the provider) Then the one who wishes to recieve the feed can download aggregate software for the desktop or use some form of code on a webpage to receive it on his site.
That is what I get so far. But surfing around I find a lot of things unexplained by these feed providers - like is it dumb to pay for this? are there lots of free ones that I just don't find? is it for personal use only or is it like public? can I just go ahead and hook their feed up to my webpage or do I need to ask? are there any good free news feeds? what else is available? Can someone in the know just explain these basics please. Im considering putting (er receiving) a feed on my webpage but before I go through all the trouble of learning HOW to do it, I need to find one available that I would WANT. I took a look but I'm kind lost about the rules here, it seems there are directories out there that 'sell' a 'plugin and go' service but is that just so I don't need to learn how to do it myself or what? or are you pretty much stuck with subscribing to these guys. Are these news feeds a paid subscription or is there some that offer a free feed of 'teasers'. Can someone explain the state of the industry as a whole to me please?
There are lots of "free" feeds available, it just depends what you're into and which ones you'd want to use.
Most "free" feeds come from news sites / blogs and are clearly marked on their pages - for example the BBC news website and CNN have them and so I'm sure lots of others do as well if you take the time to go out and look for sources that are right for you.
Finding the right feeds becomes more difficult the more specific you want a topic to be - a topic like "Technology" would be fine with major news sites and/or specialist news sites while a topic like "Tuning and optimising blue fuzzy widgets" would probably need you to have personal knowledge of the right websites and blogs.
Actual feed content will vary from site to site - some might include the full text (more common for blogs, rarer for news sites due to copyright issues), others might just use an excerpt from the text and I'm sure there are some that deliver just the headlines.
What you can do with a feed once you've got it will largely depend on the source and the rules they impose on its usage - apart from that it's just common sense really.
Finally if you have to ask "Is it dumb to pay for <x>?" then the answer is often "Yes". Once you understand more about how it all works then you may have a blinding epiphany on how they could make your life easier, but until then the lowest cost option (ie free) is normally the right choice to start off with.
Thanks everyone for your feedback I'm getting a handle on it now. Eurotrash that 2RSS is an awesome directory, I found exactly what I was looking for.
I also found a great resource for people who want to run an RSS feed on their webpage, it's php based but even if your server doesn't support php they will host the script and page for you free. I'm ok my server supports it. Anyway it is unbeleivably flexible. You can make a whole html page a feed or you can insert a table on your page as a feed. Just call the page through this free php script, feedforall.
It may seem a little confusing to newbies like me but just download it unzip and read the documentation you'll have that feed on your page in no time flat.
[edited by: werty at 6:35 pm (utc) on Mar. 8, 2005] [edit reason] Removed URLs - See TOS #13 [/edit]