Web Syndication

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edit classify history index Web Syndication

New standard web feed logo

Web syndication is a form of syndication in which a section of a website is made available for other sites to use. This could be simply by licensing the content so that other people can use it; however, in general, web syndication refers to making Web feeds available from a site in order to provide other people with a summary of the website’s recently added content (for example, the latest news or blog posts).

What are Web Feeds?

Web feeds are used, for example by the weblog community, to share the latest entries’ headlines or their full text, and even attached multimedia files. (See podcasting, vodcasting, broadcasting, screencasting, Vloging, and MP3 Blogs.) These providers allow other websites to incorporate the weblog’s “syndicated” headline or headline-and-short-summary feeds under various usage agreements. Atom and other web syndication formats are now used for many purposes, including journalism, marketing, bug-reports, or any other activity involving periodic updates or publications. Atom also provides a standardized way to export an entire blog, or parts of it, for backup or for importing into other blogging systems.

A program known as a feed reader or aggregator can check webpages on behalf of a user and display any updated articles that it finds. It is common to find web feeds on major Web sites, as well as many smaller ones. Some websites let people choose between RSS or Atom formatted web feeds; others offer only RSS or only Atom. In particular, many blog and wiki sites offer their web feeds in the Atom format (such as GetWiki, and most others). Client-Side readers and aggregators may be designed as standalone programs or as extensions to existing programs like web_browsers. Browsers are moving toward integrated feed reader functions, such as Safari RSS, Web Browser for S60, Opera, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Such programs are available for various operating systems.

Web-based feed readers and news aggregators require no software installation and make the user’s “feeds” available on any computer with Web access. Some aggregators syndicate (combine) web feeds into new feeds, e.g., taking all football related items from several sports feeds and providing a new football feed. There are also search engines for content published via web feeds, including Technorati and Blogdigger. On Web pages, web feeds (Atom or RSS) are typically linked the word “Subscribe” or with the unofficial web feed logo.


Large scale web syndication of content started in 2001 when Miniclip freely syndicated online browser based interactive games to the masses. Today many different types of content is syndicated on the Internet. Millions of online publishers including newspapers, commercial web sites and blogs now publish their latest news headlines, product offers or blog postings in standard format news feed.

Syndication benefits both the websites providing information and the websites displaying it. For the receiving site, content syndication is an effective way of adding greater depth and immediacy of information to its pages, making it more attractive to users. For the transmitting site, syndication drives exposure across numerous online platforms. This generates new traffic for the transmitting site ? making syndication a free and easy form of advertisement.

The prevalence of web syndication is also of note to online_marketers, since web surfers are becoming increasingly wary of providing personal information for marketing materials (such as signing up for a newsletter) and expect the ability to subscribe to a feed instead.

Although the format could be anything transported over HTTP, such as HTML or JavaScript, it is more commonly XML. The two main families of web syndication formats are RSS and Atom.

See Also


Some content adapted from the Pseudopedia article “Web_syndication” under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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[ last updated: 5:38pm EDT - Tue, Apr 10 2007 ]
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