Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On plagiarism and the YA community

I've decided to just jump in with my two cents on this whole The Story Siren plagiarism matter. Unless some new development comes to light with this situation, this post is the last I plan to say on that matter, either here, or on Twitter/Facebook.

For those of you who don't know, here's the post from one of the bloggers that Kristi plagiarized giving the explanation and evidence.

You know, a few months ago, something similar happened with some other bloggers at Paranormal Night  Owl reviews. That blog no longer exists, but basically these two girls were massively plagiarizing many other bloggers and peddling the reviews off as their own. Once this was found out, very many bloggers were up in arms and were determined to shut Paranormal Night Owls down. Completely. They contacted publishers and informed them of the plagiarism, and they even boycotted the blog. 

Not one person stopped and said, "Wait, guys, we should just forgive them for what they've done."
Edited for clarification(Thanks to Rachel for explaining!) The two girls who ran the PNO blog were repeat offenders. They plagiarized under different blogs names twice before Paranormal Night Owls, and the first time it was found out, it was dealt with between the girls, and the bloggers affected. Then they did it again, were caught and then stopped. Once more they tried, hence PNO, and at this point the victimized bloggers had had enough. (The full story is below in the comments.)

So, my question to you is, why is everyone saying this for Kristi? Why is she so special, that she should be treated differently than anyone else that decides to plagiarize? 

I've been a victim of plagiarism, and let me tell you, it sucks. A lot. It hurts to know that someone stole words that you wrote and worked hard on, and was getting credit for them. So I sympathize very much with the victimized bloggers, and I understand why they're so angered. Really, I do.

Also edited, to include my own experience with plagiarism. A few months back, I received an email from another blogger telling me that one of my reviews had been stolen--word for word--and posted on another blog. By the time I became aware of what was going on, there were many bloggers already in action trying to get this girl shut down, and it worked too. I saw my review up on her blog. MY REVIEW. And I was so intensely angry. Luckily, the blogger that had contacted me had taken care of getting this girl to stop, and the reviews were deleted off of Goodreads, and the plagiarizer shut down her blog. 


I guess what I'm trying to say with this PNO reference, and the reference to my experience with plagiarism, is that both times, the bloggers who were victimized took action to have the offender shut down. Literally, shut down. I'm just wondering why people are taking it so easy on Kristi, and I'm saying that it's because of her status as like this 'uber YA blogger'. 

And no, I don't think we should just "forgive and forget" what Kristi did, because what she did wasn't right. And if it were anyone else, I know that people wouldn't have those same sentiments. If you had a bum and Madonna in the same room, and they both committed theft, shouldn't they get the same punishment? Or should you go easier on Madonna because of who she is, and maybe because she'll publicly say sorry? (Which to be honest, I don't buy into Kristi's 'apologies' because they just sound like she's trying so hard to deflect the blame from herself.) No, you shouldn't give Madonna special treatment over the bum, and we shouldn't give Kristi special treatment either. 

And what I find really funny is everyone is saying "She's human, she makes mistakes!" Of course she does! But copying numerous posts from other people--and making it really obvious once you stop and compare them--is not a mistake. One thing is to type a weird word because your finger slips, and you publish it without meaning to. That's a mistake. But after you spend 30 minutes on a blog, several times over, in fact, it stops becoming a mistake and instead becomes something very intentional. Kristi knew very well what she was doing, because she did it several times.

Which brings me to my next point. Another thing many people are saying is that "she should get a second chance." Do you guys realize that she's already had a second chance, and a third, and a fourth? She had a second chance when, after she posted the first plagiarized post, she decided to plagiarize another, and another, until she had a grand total of 6 plagiarized posts. 

SIX. 

Are you still going to tell me she made a mistake? That she didn't mean to? That she's sincerely sorry for what she did? Because if she really was sorry, she wouldn't have done it in the first place, or she at least wouldn't have done it more than once. But guys, she's a repeat offender. Multiple times over. 

The worst part of all this, I feel, was she lied about it. She lied, blatantly and tried making it sound like she was some innocent little bystander who just accidentally wrote down the same stuff as someone else. She said she had never been to the blogs she plagiarized, and once proof was shown that she spent copious amounts of time on them, she changed her story to "I didn't recognize them at first, but yes, I did read those blogs." I won't link to her apologies, because I don't want to associate with her blog anymore, but they're there.

So, I will no longer read her blog. I unfollowed her on Twitter, Formspring, Facebook, and Goodreads. I don't condone plagiarism, and in my opinion, I don't support her being a blogger anymore. Someone made a good point that if she were a journalist, she would never get another job again. And it's true, because that stuff follows you. This whole thing has really angered me, because, like many people, I looked up to Kristi so much. I loved The Story Siren, and now that's gone. It'll never come back, either, because once my trust is gone, it's gone

Feel free to post your thoughts below, but be aware, I don't tolerate flaming or bullying, either towards me, Kristi, or any other blogger. Those comments will be deleted. I love talking with others who have opposing views, though, so if you'd like to share your side, please do so! :) 

21 comments:

  1. I agree completely with you. Plagiarizing is wrong. it's horrible. I just hate the way people go about it in the blogshephere. I didn't think it would be like this when I first started and it pisses me off it's not that group of happy readers like I thought it was.

    Kristi shouldn't have done what she had, and she shouldn't get special treatment. But I would be lying if I said I never admired her. I also like the fact she tried to professionally in her response to all this.

    Kristi did well with her blogs, but those posts really hurt her reputation as a blogger. TO be honest I don't know what to think, but that fact so many people are bashing her makes me mad. Bashing in general is horrid, no one should have to deal with that.

    All this bashing and bullying throughout are tight knit group as bloggers will really look bad upon us. I just wish everyone would be more professional. And from a bunch of posts I have read, I have noticed A LOT of jealousy.

    many bloggers are bandwagoning on the bashing because she was an established blog and got so many books. That excuse should not give them a reason to be mad. She worked hard for that position.

    But to get posts from other people is wrong.

    All in all, I am against both sides in some ways. I do not agree to plagiarizing , and I do not agree to bashing and bullying. (I have been bullied and it really sucks)And to The people who were sending me hate mail about this situation...all I have to say I have nothing to do with this, so stop hating on me. I am neutral, and I am sick of all this crap.

    That is my two cents. I just wish people blogged for the love of books, not the followers, or material numbers.

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  2. I think this is tough for people because they liked Krista. She's the cute little blonde who's always smiling in her videos. So people don't want to see her as being a thief. But when you look at the evidence, it's hard to feel for her.

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  3. Here's a question for you. Are you still going to participate in IMMs and other Story Siren related Memes? I realized that you could simply title them "Book Hauls", but I was just wondering if you were going to make that change as well.

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  4. I might just go for book hauls or do my BOD or this week in books since some people do that...

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  5. Thank you very much for posting this. I am shocked and disgusted by the outpouring of support for her actions. It is one thing to stand by a GOOD friend when said friend screwed up royally and needs her GOOD friends there to support her. A good friend would stand by you but WOULD let you know that YOU ROYALLY EFFED UP. But it's quite another to so flippantly dismiss some major plagiarism simply because she's well known and has probably given you some free crap. Some of the cries of "you're so courageous!" and "you're only human. It's OK that you stole someone's work....over and over again!" are just...insulting. And if she has any back bone and wants to bounce back from this, she would be insulted too.

    I wish her no ill will but in no way should she be rewarded for her actions.

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  6. Very well said! IMO, her actions have tarnished the entire blogosphere. I've made the decision to stop following her as well, as I'm just not comfortable with supporting her in any way. I'm also going to stop participating in any of her memes for the same reason. The whole thing is very sad.

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  7. Yes! I so agree with you. When I saw the support I was like "What? It's okay to bully two teens, but not one popular adult?" Angers me that she has support, but it also angers me when people take it too far!

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  8. Score. This post is love right here. She's effectively the Michael Jackson of the book blogging community. Doesn't matter what you do or how bad it is, people will still love you and adore you for it while condemning others that do the same thing. And speak out against it! MAY YOU BURN IN HELL! Srsly. She hid what she did and lied about it. That kind of behavior shouldn't be supported.

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  9. I agree with everything you said here. I don't think I can go back to her blog and it be the same again. Everyone makes mistakes, but this wasn't just one mistake, it was several, plus she actually hasn't even owned up to what she did yet. She will get through this because she has a lot of supporters and I'm sure in a few months new bloggers that come along won't even know this ever happened, but I'm here now and I choose not to condone this.

    I'm not sure what to do for IMM anymore.

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  10. I completely agree with you, Ashley. I've been lurking around reading up on what has been going on and that was my first and continuing thought: if it wasn't someone as big as Krisit, there would be more of an uproar. I hate that.

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  11. Super post. Our thoughts exactly. This is not a "mistake" but an intentional deception. The only mistake made is that she chose to do it.

    I have responded in full here: http://www.gritandglamour.com/2012/04/25/now-its-my-turn-for-a-clarification/

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  12. I agree with you 100% If this was a 1-time offense and she made a REAL admission and apology, i think it would be easier to let go of. HOWEVER, she plagiarized way more than once, it was obviously deliberate, and her apology was half-assed, full of double-speak, and honestly it was offensive to the blogs she stole from. Her actions overall are completely disgusting, I hope that she truly learns from this experience and I hope that the consequences fit the crime.

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  13. The Story Sirens many actions (of stealing content, of offering up as her own, of denying it, then refusing ACTUALLY own up to her transgression- that she plagiarized, to apologize TO the people she stole from, of painting herself as a victim) prove that she should no longer be a leader of any sort of a community, least of which one that values writing and original content. I don't think bullying is called for, but for her readers to call her out on her own actions and mistakes (plural, her mistakes are many) and demand consequence is something I feel is not bullying. Stating facts is not bullying. I admire your willingness to look at principles and not just personality- and hope the YA book community at large can be willing to learn from this- and move on.

    I'm a big fan of the fashion bloggers who content was stolen by the Story Siren. The fact that they have handled this situation calmly, with research and documentation, and held firm to the facts in spite of her refusal to offer up anything other than remorse that she got caught, makes me admire them all the more. For me, they are true community leaders who deserve much respect.

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  14. I agree with you darling!

    Like JJ said, I have no idea what to do about IMM anymore...

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  15. To those who aren't sure if they want to continue with IMM there is a similar meme called Mailbox Monday - here is the link http://mailboxmonday.wordpress.com/mm-tour-stops/ check it out for details. Could be a viable option for those who want to share books obtained during the week but don't want to support The Story Siren.

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  16. This whole situation has saddened me. On all fronts. I've been staying out of the conversation about this, though I have been following it - which is how I came across your post - because I don't like to rush to judgment and I don't feel as if my opinion either way makes a difference, my actions do. And I don't condone idea theft.

    But I just wanted to clear up one thing about your post regarding the Paranormal Night Owls situation and the book blogging community. Because I don't feel that the community was quick with the pitchforks to shut down two smaller bloggers. That was a third strike case.

    And there were people willing to forgive. The first time.

    PNO was a third attempt by those bloggers using plagiarized content. They plagiarized on their first blog, the matter was handled quietly behind the scenes. They lied repeatedly. The matter was then made public. There may have been some looking for them to shut down but others willing to forgive and let them learn from their mistake. Including me who was lied to and had two reviews stolen by them. They chose to shut their blog down.

    They started a new one, once again using plagiarized reviews. They were quickly caught and shut down. It was only after they tried once again under the name Paranormal Night Owls that people had enough and weren't so quick to forgive.

    It seems to me the community as a whole is willing to forgive, if not forget, but there's been so much negativity out there lately that people are reaching their tipping points.

    All of this drama is so far beyond what I thought came with the territory of being a book blogger and is making me seriously look at whether the pros are outweighing the cons for me anymore.

    But I still like to think that overall this is a wonderful community.

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  17. Hey guys, thank you for all of the comments! I'm sorry I haven't been replying, but I've been really busy. However, I just wanted to reply to Rachel for a second.

    Firstly, thanks for clearing that up about PNO. I wasn't there for the first 2 incidents, but I was for the 3rd. I wasn't directly affected, but I did see all the commotion on Twitter. I had heard the story about their previous plagiarisms, in fact I think it was you who told me, Rachel. :)

    What I meant by my comparison between PNO and Kristi is that, in the PNO case, they had done it multiple times, and those affected did their best to stop these girls from plagiarizing anymore, and stop them from being bloggers in general.

    Kristi's case honestly isn't all that different. She's also a repeat offender, it's just no one ever caught onto it. Sure, maybe it's not on as big of a scale as PNO, but by the time all of this came to light a few days ago, Kristi already had several massively plagiarized posts in her repertoire. And who knows just how many more she would have plagiarized in a few months' time. So, to me, Kristi and the two PNO girls aren't different at all. Kristi lost her integrity as a blogger, and as one of the most influential one at that, and I don't think she deserves it back. I possibly could have forgiven one plagiarized post, after a very long time, and if she had just come clean and apologized frankly. But 6? And with her blatantly lying and trying to cover it up? No, that I won't forgive.

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  18. I actually hadn't been following too closely the commotion on Twitter for the PNO situation because I was way too upset. But I hadn't realized it was Twitter that shut them down that third time. By that point I was just so sickened.

    I had posts about the first offense (maybe that's where you saw it discussed) and the third one because I had been lied to privately and deceived and spent a good long time feeling like a fool for believing the lies and for staying silent, feeling violated for having my words used to get ARCs, having my ideas manipulated. But I was still willing to forgive and most people were too. I didn't see any pitchforks aside from those who were also plagiarized by them. Which is understandable.

    But I don't recall there being a huge uproar by the community when they were first caught. Though they were repeat offenders during their first "outing." It was only after being caught on more than one occasion that I think people had enough.

    No one had caught onto those girls on first offense. I found plagiarized posts dating back months before I made the first discovery. But I felt the community was willing to give second chances. But yes, their reputation was tarnished, their credibility was shot, their integrity destroyed.

    As I said I don't condone theft. Period. I don't support it. Period. But those are my personal beliefs. I'm not a saint. I'm not without flaws. But my reputation and my integrity are all I have as a blogger in this community. So I try to behave the best I can and treat others as I'd like to be treated and hope that's enough.

    This whole matter has hit me pretty hard. I think I'm still in shock just a bit. And I'm just so very sad.

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  19. Thanks for sending me the link about updating your post. You didn't have to do that, but thank you for sharing your story. I had no idea about this happening. I'm so sorry. I know exactly how it feels. I'm glad to hear that you had a group of supporters who helped get you through it. It's not an easy thing to discover.

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  20. {new follower here}

    I have come to conclude that because she is so respected or was no one really knows how to respond to it ... the fact is she really screwed up and I don't think it is something that can just be forgotten, I personally cannot turn my trust back over to someone immediately after they destroy it ... So I don't see her keeping all her followers, but then again who knows ... I just wish there was a way to know for sure if any of the other content she has posted is hers or someone elses dressed up to be hers.

    {http://www.justonemorechapter.net}

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  21. Dealing with plagiarism on top of everything else an instructor must think about may feel like a stinging slap in the face, but the fact is, plagiarism happens all too frequently. To address this we should be watchful on the content we are posting.

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