Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Comment on the Recent Plagiarism Scandal

As a book blogger and aspiring author, there are few things I can think of that are worse than someone robbing me of my words. Plagiarism is one of the most dirty words in my mind and it's really hard for me to think of something much scarier.

Then I started reading the reactions to The Story Siren plagiarism scandal that quite literally rocked the blogosphere. I'm not saying that I agree or accept with what she did. Plagiarism is always wrong. I don't know Kristi personally but as a long time follower of her blog, I don't think she was doing this to intentionally be malicious. But she was plagiarizing and that is a problem. We each have to decide whether we can accept that as her audience and move on accordingly. Whether she is able to move on from this incident and learn something is up to her.

But I plan to take something away from this.

I could go on about how awful plagiarism is and how it affects those who are plagiarize and those doing the plagiarizing. But that's something we all know.

What I want to take from this is the reaction to the scandal. I've been following people's reactions on Twitter and reading comments on blog posts and I have to say that I am stunned. As YA readers, we read about the mean girls and the bullies. We each cheer when the mean girl gets what's coming to her and feel the triumph when the main character is able to be the bigger person.

So why are we acting like the mean girls that we love to hate? Why are we saying rude, hateful things about someone who made a mistake?

Not only does this make us look bad as an online community but it makes us look bad as people. I know that at least here, there is flesh and blood behind each in every one of the words I type. I'm human. I screw up daily and screw up royally some times too. And I know that everyone else has too. That's part of life. Sure, The Story Siren screwed up big time and very publicly but that doesn't give anyone the right to bully her about it.

We can discuss it, we can learn from it and we can grow from it but the snarky comments have to stop. Drawing lines in the pavement and sticking out our tongues at anyone on the other side has got to stop or we will never be respected. I'm oftentimes shocked by how people look down on the YA community because I'm immersed in it and I know the good it creates. But when we start calling each other names and being rude; when we start acting like our stereotypes then we are just reinforcing this thought process.

Again, we all know that robbing someone of their words and ideas and passing them off as your own is not right. Knowing the sacred power of the written word and the magnificence of my own thoughts, I would never condone someone plagiarizing. I don't care how big or small their blog is, whether they are black, white, Hispanic, any other color in between, old, young, from the US or Europe, it isn't right. But all of that goes for the people who are throwing stones and feel they have the right to be downright cruel too.

Stop being the mean girls and start being the heroines.

Learn something while you're at it too.

The wonderful thing about the blogosphere community is that we make it what it is. We literally have the power at the tips of our fingers. I want to make it into a utopia, not the middle school playground. I hope everyone else decides to as well.

33 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you! It took me pretty much all day to figure out how to express what I was feeling.

      Delete
  2. *stands up* *slow claps*

    This is beautiful. This is the first time I haven't been ashamed of the entire community today. Well said.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Casey, thanks! I really appreciate it!

      Delete
  3. Thanks for sharing this! I've been on hiatus from blogging for sometime and I just read this issue now. Honestly I'm shocked that it involves Kristi. I've been following her from the time I started blogging as well. I don't want to judge and I think no one should either.

    I agree that it's the reactions of other bloggers that is almost as shocking, if they are really that mean. I hate plagiarism too. I've been trained to be wary of it as much as possible. I think we should also look at the degree or intensity of the plagiarism that took place.

    I hope that we learn more than being mindful of plagiarism. I know there is more to the book blogging community than being mean. We have proven ourselves in the past, I think it just so happens that some can be overtaken by their reactions. Think before you click.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maidenveil, I think you have it exactly right. I've said it a million times, things you put on the internet are permanent and words do hurt. You do have to think before you click.

      Delete
  4. I'm afraid to read these reaction posts as of late because of all the "mean girls" stuff you mentioned. I couldn't agree more with what you said here and I'm planning on circulating this so that people have a good hard look at themselves. Ostracizing somebody who's been a major part of this vast and (most times) overly friendly community does nobody any good but stir up ugly feelings.

    Thanks for writing this; I'll probably retweet it all day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jessie Marie, thanks. I'm glad I was able to express myself correctly and my meaning got across.

      Delete
  5. I very much agree with you Amber. People are extremely quick to point their fingers and to judge. It's pretty awful. She made a mistake and is trying to make amends now. That's all that matters. You need to trust people and give them second chances.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I respect you for the way you presented your post about this issue which had been bothering me for a while, so mature and in control. At times I literally fell sick of some of the comments, especially in posts where people are rounded up and attacked. It happens everywhere, in facebook and twitter... Never understands what makes people do this... :(

    ReplyDelete
  7. I agree that the "mean girls" personal attacks need to stop. Bullying is just as wrong no matter what the situation, if not worse.

    A few thoughts about the whole ordeal is that I was personally shocked and disappointed in both the blogger and others reactions. I remember another case of a plagiarism where a blogger's review(s) were stolen and used on a lesser known blog. There was an outcry of support for the blogger who had been plagiarized and lesser known blog ended up deleting their blog. I find it interesting that people seem to be more split in this case since the plagiarist was a very well known blogger.

    I've had contradictory feelings because as a teacher I've had students plagiarize and they always get a second chance; of course there are consequences even the first time around. It is hard to trust someone after they've messed up, but if they own up to their mistake, apologize, and legitimately feel bad then they should at least be given a chance to prove themselves. On the other hand, we're dealing with someone who isn't a teen, is part of the reading/writing world, and knows better.

    It boils down to are you going to give the blogger a second chance and continue to follow her or not. It's a personal choice where there is no need to bully her and/or other bloggers no matter what side of the issue they are on.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post! I've just decided to keep my mouth shut about the entire thing, because if I ever screwed up, I wouldn't want everyone to jump on me like they are jumping on her. I also think this has been sort of overblown. No, plagiarism isn't right, but she didn't kill anyone. My goodness, I was shocked at the vehement meanness of people toward her. But I think it's definitely something to note: CITE! If you got an idea from someone, provide a link! That's all she really needed to do! She didn't plagiarize their words on a line-by-line scale, she plagiarized their IDEAS. For us, this just means offering a little "inspired by" or "drawn from" with a link!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post, Amber! I haven't clicked on many of the posts people have been putting up but I knew I could count on you to say something fair and insightful and that's exactly what you did.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've been staying out of this issue entirely, because I don't know how much it's my business. This will actually be my first comment on the situation in a public forum. I intend to speak for no one but myself, and have no desire to attack anyone.

    First of all, I agree that the Mean Girls (and Boys) thing is ridiculous. I've read some of the twitter comments about it and, well, youch. The Mean Girl stuff is definitely coming from both camps. Certainly, Kristi has gotten a lot of hate since, which, while unsurprising, definitely crossed the line sometimes. However, Kristi's closest friends responded back to those people, and to some who merely wanted to have a discussion, in a similar rude vein. Neither group should be committing this behavior; there's no need to be calling anyone names about this.

    As for the conversations on Twitter and the like, I think it's only realistic to expect people to discuss the situation. I mean, it's kind of a big deal. I think people have a right to express their opinions on it, but should do so constructively. Comments that the people accusing Kristi are just jealous of her popularity are not constructive, and, likely, mostly not true. In the same vein, though, I also don't approve of the fact that some people are taking this chance to publicly insult her and her blog. What really bothers me about it is that I imagine most of these people would never have dared say anything before the scandal. Don't bring up something that's bothered you forever just because she's a weaker target now; besides, it just lessens their legitimacy in making their statements. Saying that 'you always knew' there was something off is not helpful at all.

    The other point I wanted to make is with regards to the 'everybody makes mistakes' mentality. I feel like it's doing the community a disservice to write this off as a mistake. The word has, to me, connotations of the accident, something done inadvertently. It seems as though there was at least some amount of premeditation here and a knowledge that what was begin done was unacceptable, based upon the initial assertion that she'd never seen the blogs.

    I'm not saying that she should be booed out of the blogosphere over this or anything, nor am I drawing conclusions that she's stolen all of her content or tha she's a terrible person. However, I do feel like she had enough years of blogging to realize that using someone's content like that would not be cool, which is why it doesn't feel like a 'mistake' to me. More like 'everyone makes bad choices sometimes.'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christina, you definitely make some great points ad I agree. For me, a mistake can be intentional. That is just how I see it but I can understand where it could come across as just accidental and your clarification is a good one.

      I think people should discuss this but that they need to leave the rude name calling out of it. Both sides are wrong here but there are things that we need and should take away from this.

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight!

      Delete
  11. Here's the deal: Her case of plagiarism was not a mistake. She did it willingly and there's proof of not one, but four articles being stolen. Yes, there are people out there taking it to the extreme but most of the ones talking about this deal are doing so because they are worried and disappointed over it. Plagiarism is not okay and it never will be. She tried to hide this back in January when she was caught and that's what makes it looks worse. It makes her look like a liar. It would have been better if she hadn't tried to cover it up, as the proof shows. A lot of the bloggers who are talking about this are doing so because this will make us all look bad. They feel that her being such an influential blogger and doing this makes the whole YA blog scene look bad. In the end, she did something wrong and should not be defended just because of who she is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennie, you certainly have a right to your opinion. But it seems that you missed the point of my post. I'm not interested on passing judgement. I have my own opinions about what happen and as I addressed in the post, it is up to each of us to decide what we are going to do about it as her audience.

      My point is that just because someone made a mistake--even an intentional one-- doesn't give people the right to be rude to her or each other. It is how we handle situations like this that define our community and that is what I am talking about in this post. I can abide someone who makes a mistake, acknowledges it and takes steps to make it right (again, this is in general and not necessarily specific to this case) but I can't tolerate hateful comments. As I said in my post, discuss it and learn from it but leave the rudeness out.

      Delete
    2. As I said, I think some of the comments are hateful and rude and I am most definitely against it. However, your last sentence seems to make it sound like I am being rude, which I am not. I'm just expressing my opinion in a very respectable way. I'm disappointed in her and that is all I've said. I've never resorted to rude things or even addressing her in particular. I think a lot of people want to censor those who don't want to defend her plagiarism. We all have a right to express what we think, no matter which "side" we take.

      Delete
    3. I still think you are missing my point here. I don't mind that people are disappointed and expressing it. I do mind that people are resorting to personal attacks and nasty attitudes to do it-- and this is happening on both sides.

      I'm not sure where you are getting that I called you rude. If I wanted to, I would have. I simply restated my point that people need to talk about this situation without resorting to name calling and slandering people who feel differently.

      I do, however, feel that your last comment borders on aggressive which isn't cool. I accept that people have their own opinions and I hope that everyone responds accordingly but with respect.

      Delete
    4. Jennie, I also acknowledge that you probably didn't mean to come off aggressive but it could just be how I read your comment.

      Delete
  12. Totally agree with yours and Christina's (above commenter) thoughts. We're losing sight of the issue at hand and degrading the discussion to mud-slinging and below the belt shots. I'm all for expressing concern, sadness, disappointment, and have dialogue surrounding how to improve things if we have questions about something, but no need to craft a spirit of negativity that clouds the discussion entirely. There's a very fine line on it, and while I normally always steer clear of controversy, I did post something today about the few who actually are coming close to potentially cyberbullying. Let's just discuss the issue, and not, as Christina above pointed out, now suddenly write things that people "always knew." That's just unnecessary.

    Great post today, Amber!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great post, Amber! Thanks for adding your voice to this. I have never been a victim of a mean girl, but I was yesterday. On one of the blogs that posted about this topic, I made a comment for the bullying to, please, stop. I didn't like the hashtags or the calling of Kristi a b*tch. Or saying her reviews are shallow or that she brags about getting ARC's and that she thinks she's above everyone else. That has nothing to with plagiarism. However, I felt that her poor choice in committing plagiarism was wrong and she should be held accountable. I also didn't care for the fact that people were dying to get out their pitchforks. Then it was turned around on me with this mean girl mentality that I was defending Kristi. I wasn't defending Kristi's plagiarism at all. I was called names, swore at and treated with disrespect. I was told I didn't know what bullying felt like and I should the F up. Apparently that's not bullying in their book? Where do people like this get off? Why did the blogger of that particular blog stand by and let that kind of dialogue take place? I think it's important to have a discussion on the topic but not call people names who may disagree with the whole treatment of the situation. We can agree to disagree. Plagiarism is a serious topic and one bloggers and writers should discuss. But I think this whole thing could have been handled differently. I also didn't understand why people were all up in arms that she wasn't saying anything, yesterday, and why did it take her so long to voice some sort of apology. She works.

    Personally, if it were me that someone had plagiarized or lifted information from...I would have handled this privately. I also think it's interesting that the blogger who started the hashtag has since apologized and said it was a little harsh. Maybe if she thought about that beforehand this whole mess wouldn't have played out like it did.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Excellent points. I don't think enough people are thinking about the fact that personally attacking another person is ugly & unprofessional. And when we, as book bloggers, are already struggling to be taken seriously having parts of our community firing off at the mouth with the intent to assassinate someone's character doesn't help in the least.

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's a shame because the personal attacks and insults are taking away from the very serious subject matter (not to mention, tarnishing the YA Blogging Community's name). Thank you for addressing this so eloquently.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm new to the YA blogging world, so it took me awhile to get this story. You make great points. Attacking her is just agitating the situation, making everyone look completely immature. However, I am happy that it came out into the open because it wasn't fair to me and other bloggers who provide honest and original content.

    I'm curious to see how this will all turn out after the drama simmers down.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is by far the best post I have seen regarding this whole issue. So many of the posts are either rants, or they're just adding to the drama, but I love that with this post you haven't done any of that. This is exactly how I have felt about the whole issue. Yes, what Kristi did was wrong, but the way other bloggers have been behaving has just made everyone look bad, and it has made it much much worse. While I can understand how some people are upset, their reactions come off as rude and you're right they come off as mean girls and as blatantly immature. I'm not saying what Kristi did was right, but her mistakes do not give people the right to attack her over the internet. Also, there are several people that are just starting to come off as bitter and jealous. It's just turned into one of those things I don't even want to think about for a while...going on Twitter has been giving me a constant headache over the last two days. I wish that it could be discussed more maturely and in a much more constructive manner, and thankfully your post gives me hope that in some cases it may be.

    Thank you so much for responding to this issue respectfully and maturely. You've made me very proud to be part of the blogger community. If only more people reacted as maturely as you did. Thanks, Amber!

    Ambur :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Amber, I just wanted to say, this is such a great, well-argued, beautifully articulated post. Thank you for putting it up. How we respond reflect back who we are.

    ReplyDelete
  19. It is too bad there's so much icky attitude flying around. I've laid pretty low - not following comments around or looking for bashing, knowing it was out there. I posted my opinion, though...

    Basically, if wrong is committed, respect is re-earned by 'fessing up, which Kristi hasn't actually done, last I checked. I agree with you about "mistakes" - whatever you wanna call 'em. Nobody's perfect all the time. I'd like to see some character shining thru somewhere...

    and it has to start somewhere, why not here? Plagiarism's not good. Nasty attitudes are also NOT GOOD. Stop the cycle and move on with the good stuff!!

    I like your post.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Excellent post! This is the first post I've read about this issue that has a rational and well-thought out discussion, without resorting to name calling. Totally agree about the Mean Girl mentality! Overall, it's just sad. The whole thing has given book bloggers a black eye.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Gosh, I've been reading about this "scandal" for the past couple of hours & I'm floored by the rude comments on all the blogs with posts up... it's horrible how they're tearing Kristi down. I think what she did, apologize and delete all the content she had that looked plagiarized, is fantastic. I love your post, I actually think it's the first one I've seen so far today that's not completely trashing Kristi. I still love her blog, and will continue to follow it. Yes, she screwed up but it's not like she went on a scavenger hunt around the blog world & said "oh hey, who can I steal from today" you know? I fully believe she deserves a chance to prove she's not the vicious person she's being made out to be.

    Wonderful post Amber!

    ReplyDelete
  22. {new follower here}

    I have to say I agree with your point of view. The more people bring each other down the more damage it causes. I wouldn't call the plagiarism a mistake more so then a lapse of judgement. I am sure she has learned her lesson as this is like world wide blog news here, I hope people can move on from this point ...

    On a side not - your background and font colors are difficult to read almost trippy for me. I had to highlight the page in order to read this. I just though I would tell you.

    {http://www.justonemorechapter.net}

    ReplyDelete
  23. With this post I have decided to follow your blog. I'm practically a new book blogger and as I scrolled through blogs to get an idea of how I should interact with my readers... I came across this scandal and the reactions. You put into written words what I thought very well. I don't know this Siren person nor have I stumbled across her blog - until now - (again I'm very new to blogging even though my blog is a year old... just didn't do anything but created it > . <) I felt like there's this lynch mob ready to kill someone and it made me sick and angry. I do not condone plagarism, but I am a strong advocate for fair treatment and second chances. If we make excuses for hating someone, then others can makes excuses for hating us. And like an evil seed, it sows and grows into something worst and more despicable. So thank you for your kind words and thank you for being clear headed about this.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Ummm if I can figure out how to follow your blog.... (@_@)... by that I mean follow through my blog... if that makes sense...I need a manual... (@//@)

    ReplyDelete

Thinking of writing something below? Well, that's why you are awesome! I always love feedback!

This blog is an award free zone. With the demand of a full time job, blogging time is becoming much more precious and I just don't have the time to meet the demands of awards. Thanks so much for thinking of me anyway!

Related Posts with Thumbnails
 
Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs all images form the Impossible Things kit by Studio Tangie and Rebecca McMeen