What is Web Syndication?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

A syndicate is a group that forms an association for the sake of a common interest. Starting in print journalism, syndication was an approach to widening the market for a comic strip or a columnist by allowing simultaneous publication in multiple venues. Web syndication can refer to either this strategy adapted to the Internet or to a format that allows readers to gather updates from their favorite websites into one place.

Web syndication includes services that let users gather information from several websites into one place.
Web syndication includes services that let users gather information from several websites into one place.

The first type of web syndication is carried out in a variety of ways. Material licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License is meant to by syndicated without fee or notice. Therefore, for example, Wikimedia’s terms of use — by which one is allowed to republish Wikipedia, for example — have a section explicitly targeted at re-users.

Other web syndication arrangements are also possible, still under the first meaning. For one thing, a content producer who specializes in writing on a particular topic might syndicate material to several sites that sell related products. Alternatively, arrangements, either with money exchanged or not, might be made between two websites, the one gaining wider distribution, the other gaining traffic. The content that is republished needn’t be restricted to information. It could also be product-based advertising, for example.

The second type of web syndication is a publishing format that streamlines the web browsing experience by showing headline of recent updates of specified sites in a browser or newsreader program, also called a feed reader. Feeds can handle a variety of content, including text, audio, video, and/or applications. There are several syndication formats, including RSS and Atom Feeds.

Using the second type of web syndication can save a lot of time. Rather than returning to a number of websites repeatedly throughout a day and having to scan the pages for updates, the updates that the user designates are all brought to a common location for him or her to sort through however often he or she desires to do so. A browser page, such as Bloglines® or Google® Reader or a news reader like NetNewsWire® can be left open and reviewed as desired throughout the day. Some feed landing pages are also enabled for mobile use.

News readers have a variety of features. With NetNewsWire®, for example, it is possible to skim through the headlines, read selected articles in full, and then mark them as read. A "Post to Weblog" feature makes it easy to convert a news story into a weblog post. With Google® Reader, there is a feature for easily recommending and/or sharing articles with others.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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