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Let's Talk: Plagiarism, Lies, & Emotional Evisceration

First & foremost I want to say that I, in no way, shape, or form, condone plagiarism. Across the board I believe it is wrong to pass off something someone else wrote as your own unique work. And I am not weighing in on any "side" of this issue which has unfortunately come up in the YA book blogosphere with Kristi of The Story Siren & the accusations of her plagiarism. But I have a couple questions because I have been reading everything I can find for the past two hours.

My first question is how does it help our image as book bloggers, who are always struggling for credibility in the publishing world, to start hate campaigns with name-calling & matching hash-tags? I'm not sure everyone who stops by Kristi's site or tweets about this situation is completely thinking through the fact that publishers & authors watch her site & her brand. They are seeing the over-the-top things that have been being posted, commented, & tweeted. I'm not referring to people who are legitimately posting grievances or opinions. I'm talking about the ones tossing around language meant purely for the purpose of character assassination. I would think that plagiarism is enough of an assassination of character by the plagiarist that it doesn't need to be re-visited by the random blogger with a chip on his/her shoulder.

Secondly, what is the desired sought-after outcome behind the posts made by those who do not accept Kristi's apologies? I have read a lot about how Kristi's apologies are not real enough. That she isn't really owning up to what she did wrong. That she needs to be held accountable. What does that look like? What act of contrition would appease this issue? Certainly in college a student who plagiarizes can end up expelled as a consequence of his/her action. Is the blogosphere asking for Kristi's expulsion from blogging to be the punishment for her crime? Or would something more along the lines of a post stating succinctly that, in light of the fact that it looks like she not only plagiarized but also lied about, she knows what she did was wrong & will never let it happen again -- with all of us holding her accountable by policing her blog on a daily basis?

A third question comes to mind & that is who is the judge in this situation? Who has the say in the final verdict? Right now Kristi is being tried in front a jury of her peers with every blog that posts & every tweet written about it. But who ultimately decides what the right consequences are? Who has the right?

I'm insinuating minimal opinion here because I honestly would love answers to these questions. I'm not judging anyone for writing anything other than anything to do with spiteful name-calling because it's just petty & has the same outcome for the image of book bloggers as does plagiarism. We get taken less seriously than we already do. And like I said, I am not on any "side" of this. If you happen to have noticed that I commented on Kristi's recent apology, my words were meant only to encourage her as a person & it was written before I had read anything else about the situation. I don't think anyone deserves to be emotionally eviscerated because that is simply bullying. But I do think that we all should be held accountable for our own actions.

What are your thoughts?

13 comments:

  1. Well said, Jenny. I really enjoy reading your blog because you put so much thought into your writing. I've been reading a bit about what's going on (and it's just crazy how fast this thing has positively exploded!) While I don't agree with what Kristi did, it is appalling how the book community is lashing out at her. The hateful comments and criticism about her blog are absolutely revolting. It's bullying, absolute bullying. And, as you pointed out, there is no blogging police, no judge and jury. No one can hand down a sentence or provide a proclamation of guilt or innocence. So what it comes down to is that a blogger made a mistake and plagiarized others' work. We can all learn from this event, and then move on with our lives. The hateful name calling won't help.

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  2. Yes, Melissa. This. And I know people are railing against calling it a mistake because that sounds like it was accidental. But some mistakes are mistakes of character. It's not necessarily an accident but it was still a mistake & someone can still be sorry for it. I just want to know what will make it okay for the book blogosphere to finally move on as a whole. What does Kristi need to do for people to stop the personal attacks? I get that people are mad & disillusioned. I understand why. But what is the bottom line & who has the right to make that call?

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  3. I love this! I just think with everything surrounding it, the YA book blogging community is certainly executing themselves in front of professionals through social networking. It just makes us look as though the genre we read is very fitting. We come off as though we never grew up and are immature, hence all this social bullying. *sigh* I just hope that it doesn't permanently damage the community at whole.

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  4. After a couple days of straight tripping drama on twitter, individual blogs, etc., this is the first cool-headed, thoughtful post I've read on the subject, Jenny. Not a ton of answers, several reasonable questions and an open invitation for reasonable, adult discussion. Thanks for that...

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  5. After a couple days of straight tripping drama on twitter, individual blogs, etc., this is the first cool-headed, thoughtful post I've read on the subject, Jenny. Not a ton of answers, several reasonable questions and an open invitation for reasonable, adult discussion. Thanks for that...

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  6. Honestly Jenny, I'm still confused about exactly what happened in the situation but I lack the time or the energy to find out. I don't know if she copied and pasted the posts or she stole an idea from another blog and wrote her own posts on it. Regardless, it seems as if her readers have two options: either they accept her apology and move on or they don't accept it, boycott her blog and move on. The Twitter situation is insane and very immature. I have no idea how people, adults at that, have the time to carry on with this drama for days....

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  7. The gist of what happened is Kristi visited a few fashion blogs & utilized their sites' tips & tricks on how to better your blog as the basis for her own articles on the same topics. She used some of what they wrote verbatim but mostly wrote her own words & used the same basic layout of the articles as the other bloggers had done. Which is, under the definition of the word, plagiarism because she did not credit the bloggers for even inspiration. When she was found out she took down the pages & she & the bloggers involved made an agreement to keep the issue quiet. However several bloggers who were not part of that agreement caught wind of it & ousted Kristi publicly. Kristi apologized to the bloggers involved at the time & has since apologized (twice) to her readers on her blog. You have seen the rest of it around the blogosphere & on Twitter. Everyone has their varying degree of intensity of feeling regarding the situation & many seem incapable of rational or adult thought on the topic.

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  8. Thank you, Rusty! Unfortunately I think what the YA book blog community seems to crave right now is drama. My site stats show a bounce rate of 80% for this article after less than a minute LOL Sorry to not deliver on the drama llama.

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  9. One of the most laughable things that I saw (and I can't remember where) was a discussion string where some people thought that the IMM meme should be moved to another blog. It made me laugh aloud, as it's Kristi's meme, and the blogging police can't just decide to take it away and move it to another blog. There's isn't any governing body that regulates what we do. If anything, the blogging community will respond by continuing to visit her blog, or not, but that decision will be up to the individual blogger.

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  10. Melissa, you're right about the community deciding on an individual basis by continuing to visit her or not. That was Parajunkee's point in her post a couple days ago & I agree wholeheartedly.

    I also believe that those who want an IMM alternative will have it because another well-known blogger tweeted about starting a new, similar meme.

    No one has the right to take IMM from Kristi. The nerve of people to take this to that bizarre level. You're right -- that's funny!

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  11. Very well said! I couldn't agree more that everyone should be held accountable for their actions, but no one has the right to take Kristi's meme away from her. For myself, I'm looking for an alternative to IMM, but it never occurred to me to try and take her meme away. There are alternatives already out there, we just have to decide on the best fit...

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  12. I found your blog and this post via your comment on The Story Siren's "Clarification" post....

    I think another thing that has added to the fire was the letter that Kristi sent to an 11 year old blogger (http://pastebin.com/C59JvAKZ). I'm shocked and appalled that Kristi even considered sending it. And it really makes me mad that she ACTUALLY hit the send button.

    As for the rest of the drama?! I haven't participated in the Twitter drama. Life is to short for that crap. For me personally, I have decided to not participate in The Story Siren's blog anymore because of the letter AND the evidence presented by the blogs that were plagirized. I agree with you 100% that the twitter drama has gone too far. I personally haven't posted anything about this but I think enough is enough.

    As for Kristi's apologizes I don't accept them on the grounds that she knowingly took content from other blogs and took the credit for it. That's theft plain and simple but I'm not going to publicly crucify Kristi for it. I'm just not going to participate in her blog anymore.

    I can't believe that people actually want to take away Kristi's IMM. There may be many questions about the originality of the content on her blog but I do know that the inspiration for IMM IS in facted credited on her blog.

    Overall, I think this is just a really unfortunate situation. Personally, I didn't really care for the content on Kristi's blog. I participated in IMM and that's about it. For me it was just a bunch of author interviews and a ton of giveaways with 1 maybe 2 SHORT reviews every week or two.

    I agree with several other commentors that this has been one of the few "un-biased" posts on this subject that I've read. I really appreciate the time and thought that you put into this post. Though my LONG comment might appear to be "angry" I'm really not, just extremely disappointed.

    New follower

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  13. Hi J.R. Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. (We have the same initials, by the way)! You didn't come across as angry to me, and maybe that's because you're not writing with any buzz words meant to convey dislike toward Kristi as a person.

    I read the post about the letter & my problem with it is that there is nothing to establish proof that letter came from Kristi. It's not a screenshot with an authentic message header but plain text. The poster was infuriated when she made the post & I always question the validity of un-cited material posted while in the midst of drama & anger. I'm not saying it WASN'T written by Kristi or that it was faked by the poster, but I don't give it as much clout in my thought process on what Kristi did as I do the very factual screenshots the fashion bloggers posted.

    That, and the fact that it was apparently from several years ago lead me to think it would be a good idea to ignore that letter even if Kristi did write it because it's not necessarily an accurate snapshot of who Kristi is today. If she was to be held accountable for that letter, it should have happened several years ago when it was sent.

    I think it's a very good idea that you take your own personal stance on whether or not you wish to participate in Kristi's blog anymore. That, I feel, is the most mature response to this entire situation anyone can have!

    Thank you for adding to the discussion & for following! :)

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