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How Alltop Works


Grabbing Headlines on Alltop
Moving your cursor over a headline brings up a preview of the story, courtesy of that story's metadata.
Moving your cursor over a headline brings up a preview of the story, courtesy of that story's metadata.
Screenshot by HowStuffWorks.com

Alltop grabs headlines using RSS technology. Depending upon whom you ask, RSS stands for really simple syndication or rich site summary. If you've ever subscribed to a Web site or used a portal service like iGoogle, you've taken advantage of RSS technology.

Basically, RSS is a Web feed format that facilitates syndication across the Web. With an RSS reader, you can look at the most recent information on dynamic Web pages. An RSS feed can include metadata, too. Metadata is information about other information. It often takes the form of a short summary of the link. When you put your mouse pointer over a link on Alltop, you'll see a display of the relevant metadata.

The site updates the RSS feeds about once an hour. If a news source goes without an update for 28 days, Alltop will drop it from topics pages. This policy helps ensure that only the timeliest information about the subject appears on the page at any given time.

Because Alltop uses RSS technology, it can only grab information from news sources that enable RSS feeds. If you think you have the best blog about a subject and you want it to appear on Alltop, it must use RSS or the site will be unable to pull links to your site. But RSS technology is nearly universal -- most blog services incorporate RSS into the basic structure of the blog.

While you can use one of dozens of RSS readers to access headlines, Alltop makes it easy for people unfamiliar with RSS feeds to access information. As Alltop evangelist Guy Kawasaki puts it, "we provide aggregation without aggravation by using a curated , not computer heuristic or wisdom-of-the-crowd voting scheme, to build magazine racks."