An easy way to keep tabs on new posts & comments

Recently I've gotten a couple emails from people asking if there was an easier way to keep tabs of recently posted stories and new comments. There is in fact an easy way to do this – News aggregators and it uses something called an RSS feed. Here's a great story describing how it works from the Online Journalism Review:

Instead of the hunt and peck of Web surfing, you can download or buy a small program that turns your computer into a voracious media hub, letting you snag headlines and news updates as if you were commanding the anchor desk at CNN.

The programs, which are just now moving out of the techie world into the mainstream, come in a variety of shapes and flavors: NewzCrawler (PC), AmphetaDesk (cross-platform), Radio Userland (PC or Mac), NetNewsWire (Mac), and others. Look beneath the hood and they're all powered by XML, a souped-up form of HTML. The programs check each site to see if they contain RSS (Rich Site Summary) tags, a set of HTML-like instructions for sharing news.

Here's how it works. You fire up one of the news readers (also called news aggregators), subscribe to certain sites from a directory of thousands of choices — say, BBC Online, ESPN, Salon, the Chippewa (Wis.) Herald and Bangkok News — and bingo, you're in business. Whenever you sign on, a directory pane lets you see the most recent updates for each channel you've subscribed to. Within each channel you'll typically see a half dozen headlines and perhaps a summary, the entire item, and occasionally an accompanying photo. Want to dive in further? Click on a link and you're transported directly to the source's Web site. Some programs run through a Web browser, others through a standalone program. Most are free.(Online Journalism Review)

I personally use the free OSX version of NetNewsWire on my Apple Powerbook. While this isn't for everyone if you visit many sites like mine that support RSS feeds it can be a nice time saver. Of course it should only be used if you want to quickly check for new posts or comments – you won't be able to see the daily header picture or any newly added links with this method.

Just look for the RSS logo on the bottom right of this site, right click (control click on a Mac) and copy the url.
When you go into your aggregator create a new site and paste in the URL. That's it, you're done.