Bloggers who use Blogger with Blogger's free Blogspot hosting service sometimes wonder whether they can get rid of or hide the Blogger navbar (the horizontal bar at the top of Blogspot-hosted blogs, which starts off as orange though you can change the colour - effectively the Blogger header), or delete the "Powered by Blogger" button from their template.
Well there are ways of "deleting" the navbar, and the Blogger button is easily got rid of just by deleting the code for it in your template - but Blogger don't want us to. (Unless you host your blog elsewhere - if you do, and use ftp to upload your blog posts to another provider, you're fine - Blogger don't mind your deleting the navbar in that situation.)
Their terms of service don't actually spell out that, in return for our being able to publish our blogs to Blogspot for free, we have to retain the navbar and the Blogger button. (In fact their TOS don't even seem to have been changed from the days when Blogspot offered a paid-for premium option, so it seems rather in need of updating).
They do suggest that the navbar should be retained, in their Navbar help page ("Unless you publish your blog via FTP, the Navbar cannot be disabled" (my emphasis)) - but that's an ambiguous "cannot" and could refer to the mechanics, which is initially what they said to me (In fact, they said that if they hadn't provided an option to do something in Blogger, then it mustn't be done. I queried that very narrow view, as you can imagine - there are loads of areas where Blogger haven't provided an option to do something, but that doesn't mean everything they haven't specifically provided an option for is therefore forbidden by their TOS. If such a rigid view was taken, that might mean no hacks were allowed, which surely can't be the case!).
Now if only they'd said "must not be disabled" in the TOS or even help pages, we would all know for sure where we stand. I suppose they could say that not including the navbar and icon would be against the "spirit" of their terms (see item 9 of the terms), but "spirit" is just so vague. [UPDATE: it's good that Blogger have now updated their TOS to remove the "spirit" requirement. Good for them.]
However, that is indeed what Blogger require, so Blogger support told me. Let's hope that their legal team will update their terms to make it very clear what the bare minimum is that Blogger requires of its members. Most of us want to be good citizens and to do what we're supposed to - at the very least it's only fair, when they give us a free publishing tool and free webspace for our posts - but it's not easy to do what they want us to, if they don't spell out exactly what it is they require of us.
Anyway (unless anyone has been told differently by Blogger?), that's the long and short of it, folks: don't delete or hide the navbar or Blogger icon, or you may find Blogger taking down your blog or stopping your hosting on Blogspot. They might not in fact do anything as drastic as that in practice, who knows, and maybe they have better things to do with their time than track down and warn the offending bloggers or worse - but it seems that they're saying they think they have a right to. Best not to risk it, in my view.
[Updated 23 March 2006]: Blogger have now come right out and said very clearly that they consider it a violation of their TOS if you modify the navbar. I think this has to include hiding it altogether too - see my post.
Besides the navbar has its uses - it can be used to search Google's index of your blog (see the Navbar help), without your having to do anything more (assuming your blog has been indexed by Google, of course). And you can change its colour to tie in better with your blog's colour scheme (in your Dashboard go to Template, the Change the Blogger NavBar dropdown menu is above the template box). Plus the button can be changed a little to blue and orange, grey and orange, or silver and - yep, you guessed it - orange!
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