Thursday, 23 March 2006

Blogger: you can't modify the navbar

It's finally official. While notoriously (and oddly) reluctant to say anything comprehensible about their navbar whenever they're asked the question, Blogger have at last come right out and said clearly, though in the context of defending themselves on a different front, that "We consider it a violation of the terms [i.e. Blogger's TOS or terms of service] to modify the Blogger navbar" (the bar you get across the top of each page of blogs hosted on with the Search this Blog, Next Blog etc buttons).

If you violate their terms of service, the conditions under which they allow you to host your blog for free on using Blogger, then they have the right to kick you off and delete your blog. So - don't mess with the Blogger navbar if you're on Blogspot.

(If a blog hides the flag or makes parts of the navbar not clickable, the Magical Sheep team have produced a Firefox/Greasemonkey Blogspot Navbar Restorer script for surfers who want to get the navbar features back and flag 'em anyway!)

A pedant might point out they've only referred to modifying the navbar ("modifying" would include at the very least getting rid of the flag button, or plastering a Make Poverty History or other banner over it, I think): they've not actually said you're not allowed to hide or get rid of the navbar altogether. However, that seems a bit nitpicky to me - if their clearly stated policy now is that even changing or tweaking the navbar is a no no, surely concealing it completely through CSS or script trickery would be considered a violation of their TOS too. (The Blogspot Navbar Restorer script also works in most cases to restore the navbar if completely hidden, by the way).

So I'll be changing my previous post about the navbar to add a note about this confirmation.

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ChickyBabe said...

Thanks for the info, Imp. I've been considering some changes to one of my blogs, now I'll make sure it stays.

Aditya said...

If you read that entire paragraph, it says that it had something to do with adding msn search. I am guessing they meant that if you change the search url to msn search, or other modifications. If you hide the bar altogether, they didn't touch that part of the deal ... unless its there in the TOS somewhere that someone nice enough can put up...

You'll always have people who'll want it gone ... can't do much about it! Thanks for the headsup!

kirk said...

No, if you read the entire article, the whole article is in response to a person on Blogger who claimed he got an email saying he had to take a msn search box off his site. The story got some attention (via digg and others)
Digg Story

The guy never put up any 'proof' that Blogger had told him this, and eventually HE pulled his blog from Blogger and moved it to wordpress, mainly because everyone was calling him fat and saying he ate too much chicken. :-) I saw his blogger post before he removed it, and it was very iffy. He never quoted the email (which I would have done if I had received something and was posting about it) AND he said he was 'gonna call Google' later to see about it..yeah he's got google on speeddial. And he does look like he enjoys chicken.
Link to the original bloggers comments on Digg

The article at the Buzz is refuting that they ever sent the guy anything, and that it is NOT against their TOS to put a MSN search box on the site, but while saying that they include the statement Imp quoted, which is they consider it a violation to "modify" the navbar. Of course this won't stop people from arguing over what 'modify' means...changing it from visible to not visible would constitute 'modifying' to me.

Althought it would be helpful if Blogger updated their TOS to explicitly state these things, as with most of the, most things haven't been updated since before the Google buyout.

I seriously doubt anyone has ever had their blog removed for such a thing, but if it's important to you why take any chance. If it's a real bother, a few bucks for your own host and you can remove it easily and within the TOS.

Improbulus said...

Thanks for all your comments. I didn't want to prolong my post (they're usually too long for lots of people!) so I didn't touch on the MSN search box point at all, but of course that was the main thrust of the Buzz post and I knew that.

What I was trying to do was to focus on just the navbar point, so I took that sentence of Blogger's out of context, and didn't mention the context, in order to highlight it. (It still means the same out of context though.)

My point is, in the course of saying it's NOT against their TOS to put an MSN search box on a Blogspot blog, Blogger did at least finally come right out & say, quite clearly, that it IS against their TOS to modify the navbar, when (as far as I know) they've never spelt that navbar point out publicly before.

As you say Kirk the navbar debate now has changed, to 'what does "modify" mean?' I agree "modify" doesn't literally mean "hide", but as the TOS means pretty much what Blogger say it means, I think that hiding the navbar would be against the spirit of "modify" if not the letter, so personally I believe Blogger would take the same view of hiding as they do of modification.

What they do to enforce that view is a different matter - like you, I've never known of them actually deleting a blog that had hidden (or indeed modified!) the navbar, but it's not worth the risk to me as I like having my blog hosted free on Blogspot, and for those who don't, I agree with you that self-hosting is the answer.

Craffter said...

Complementing Kirk here is a response from blogger buzz about the msn search thing:


Search policy
Last Friday, Inside Google posted about a Blog*Spot user who had allegedly received an email from Blogger that stated the MSN Search box on his blog constituted a violation of Blogger's Terms of Service. I'd like to clarify a couple of points about this claim:

1. You have always been able to run non-Google services on your blog. In the same way you can use Yahoo's Flickr to post photos to your blog, you can include an MSN Search box in your template. We consider it a violation of the terms to modify the Blogger navbar, but that's not what was reported to have happened here.

2. We did not send a request to have the MSN Search box removed. We reviewed the information that's been made available, and we found no such request from our support teams.

3. We did not delete nor remove the blog in question from Blog*Spot.

Our content policies enable the widest range of expression possible. And we're proud that Blogger users can customize their blogs in the manner that suits them best ... even if that means using another search tool.


Improbulus said...

Indeed. The Buzz post, which I linked to in my original post and was the source of my comment about the navbar, says you can use an MSN search box if you want to, but (in passing) that you can't modify the navbar. It was just the latter I wanted to highlight.

TZ said...

Glad you told me. I thought having your blog on your own domain name allows you to remove the navbar...
now that it's not the case, I'm leaving mine on my Leadership Bliss blog at

Improbulus said...

Well TZ, I'm not sure how much Blogger bother to police the navbar thing in practice (though I know they do delete spam blogs), still, better to be safe than sorry I say.

Turtle-Dove said...

Is there a change in this policy?