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Yahoo! Debuts RSS Beta

Yahoo! has launched a beta test of a module incorporating RSS technology, giving members the ability to pull headlines and text from other sites and display it on their MyYahoo! Pages.

Earlier this year Yahoo! accidentally let the RSS beta slip onto the My Yahoo! service, so the release of the feature has been widely expected. RSS "feeds" are getting a lot of attention from publishers and marketers, since they are a way to update users on their sites' contents without having to, for example, e-mail them a newsletter.

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary and was developed in the 1990s by Netscape. The technology's popularity with bloggers and specialized news sites over the last year or two has contributed to its adoption.

Currently, in the beta version, Yahoo! members follow a few simple steps to choose the sites from which headlines and article summaries will be transported to their personalized MyYahoo! pages. The module, which launched Friday, displays headlines and content from other sites in the form of text and links. Users can click on the links to visit the sites from which they have been garnered.

"Users who add the module to their page can search for RSS feeds, choose the number of headlines or article summaries to display, and see updates within a given period" such as the last 24 hours, said Stephanie Iwamasa of Yahoo!

RSS has been touted as a possible answer to the spam crisis because it makes it possible for publishers to make an end run around e-mail -- and new anti-spam legislation. However, critics say it can lead to increased bandwidth costs, and usage is hard to track, among other things.