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Drama, Double Standards and Deception…A Bloggers Plagiarism Manifesto!

Drama, Double Standards and Deception…A Bloggers Plagiarism Manifesto!

By Angela

For the first time, Dark Faerie Tales is taking the dreaded plunge into the dark, deceptive and devious side of blogging.  This post is an attempt to shed light on the rampant hypocrisy and double standards that plagues the blogosphere, and just to say that I’m seriously fed up with the childish antics that ensues as the result of people not being professional, honest, candid and accountable.

So a quick and dirty breakdown from the top: I read this post from Smart Bitches about a well known blogger committing plagiarism.  You will find what you need to know by following the subsequent links.  No need for me to lift their words to get my point across.  Once you have thoroughly read the posts, links, etc. you can move on to this post from Dear Author.

To bring yourself up to speed on the plagiarism scandal, you can read Mandi from Smexy Books post here.

As many of you know, for the almost four years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve never taken a public position on anything, especially hot topics that ignite around the blogosphere.  I’ve stayed out of the thick of things mostly because I don’t consider myself a role model or an exact authority on all things blog related.  Plus, I like to live in a drama free world.  My general rule is that it’s best to take the high road and not sink to the level of gutter snipe.  After all, I am an adult and I stopped behaving like a petulant child or like I’m still in high school, a long time ago.

My readers and followers know that I don’t discuss my personal life.  This is not my personal blog where I lament about work, family or my pets.  When I started my blog, I made a conscious decision to stick to the issues.  I wanted to build a blog about publishing, books and highlight some of my favorite authors.  I didn’t want to chronicle every aspect of my life.  I’m a very private person to begin with.  I say all of this because I know by posting this and taking a stance that I’m opening myself up to ridicule, personal attacks, hate and potential blowback.  The heat is on because just about everyone invested in the arena of book blogging has an opinion on this latest drama surrounding Kristi from The Story Siren.

I started my blog because I was inspired by bloggers that I admire very much; bloggers that are and remain creditable, trustworthy, entertaining, and above all else principled.  Which blogs am I talking about, you ask?  When I discovered SciFiGuy, Literary Escapism and Babbling About Books and More, I was in awe.  These blogs all offer something different and I’ve followed them continually for different reasons.  The point is that as a new blogger, I learned a lot from them.  While I know it wasn’t, it seemed like it was over night with the guidance and help from my peers I was able to establish a voice.  I realized that I was building a following and establishing my own brand.  I became very conscious of every move that I made.  I took a step back and asked myself, “What type of blog do I want to build?”  I decided that I didn’t want to kvetch about this or that, focus on negative things or be downright snarky.  What I will attempt to display here is a principled approach to right and wrong.  And maybe, just maybe people will come to see the value in accepting responsibility for their actions; having the character and humility to own their faults.  With this latest drama surrounding another incident of plagiarism, I admit that I was shocked when I found out that it involved Kristi.

The fundamental issue at hand is really plagiarism.  Some would say that it’s about a popular blogger lying, getting caught and then lying some more.  Can Kristi really steal someone else’s content, lie about it, change her statements over and over, and then try to cover it up and expect people to be understanding?  Who can follow that logic?  Is what she did okay?  The reason why so many other aspects come into play is because Kristi herself has been very vocal on this very topic.  Aggressive, in fact, when her friends were victims of plagiarism two years ago: read this eloquent post from Steph Su and the scandal that hit the web back in 2010.  Kristi was in the thick of this and very vocal about what went down. Interestingly enough, Kristi has since deleted all of her posts related to this topic. UPDATE: Kristi’s post has been archived.  You can click here to read the post.

*ETA a list of bloggers who were affected by and/or posted about this issue:
Adele – http://www.persnicketysnark.com/2010/04/plagiarism-personal-account.html
Tirzah – http://www.thecompulsivereader.com/2010/04/just-reminder-paraphrasing-is.html
Kristi – http://www.thestorysiren.com/2010/04/my-one-piece-of-advice.html
Liz – http://myfavouritebooks.blogspot.com/2010/04/lets-talk-about-plagiarism-today.html
Lenore – http://presentinglenore.blogspot.com/2010/04/bloggers-behaving-badly-2-plagiarism-is.html

*Source: Above section/links were cut and pasted from Steph Su’s post.  I’m not stealing her work product.

I remember when the above incident happened.  It was a total shit storm that came down the girl that plagiarized everyone.  Authors were joining in and she was genuinely bullied.  It was vile and ugly.  But that was okay, but no, don’t try and hold Kristi accountable for pulling the same thing? Let me format differently and change words here and there and post it as mine. I mean, really?

This is a really great post about the situation: What The Story Siren Can Teach The Story Siren About Plagiarism & the Blogging Hierarchy.

UPDATE: Letter has now been archived.  Read the referenced letter here to the 11 year old from Kristi.  It also speaks to how she’s treats other bloggers in the community and how she reacts to situations that unfold.  So I guess it is fair to say that a lot of people are calling her ethics and character into question.  It’s that old “Do as I say, and not as I do” phrase.  So it’s okay for me, but not for you and just deal with it!

**Disclosure:** I would be remiss if I didn’t address a few things and give my opinion on what’s been going on.  I believe that I am objective and that I have nothing to gain from this.  I can only be hurt by this.  I’m not friends with Kristi, but if I was I would have told her that she needed to make it right and own it wholeheartedly, not half-assed.  I briefly met her once in passing and I’ve even contacted her about advice on this very topic a few years ago.  First things first, Kristi is NOT a victim.  She is an adult and should be held accountable for her actions.  By all intents and purposes, she is a public figure.  Kristi has actively put herself out there as a voice of knowledge, a leader and an innovator in the blogging community.  She embraces her status and all that comes with it.  In many ways her personality has become the face of her blog, even surpassing it in its popularity.  Meaning it’s more Kristi, the figure, the person than her blog that people flock to.  Kristi holds herself as a pillar in the YA blogging community, offering blogging tips, tricks and even speaks out on “Bloggers Behaving Badly” themes.  That being said, Kristi opens herself to judgment when she doesn’t hold herself to the same standards that she so vehemently holds other bloggers to.  There is nothing that anyone else can say that will destroy her reputation or her brand.  Kristi has managed to do that all on her own.

It’s become very clear to me that there is no transparency on Kristi’s part or integrity for that matter.  If she has evidence to refute these so called vile accusations, then please produce the same.  I don’t like the fact that she appears to be trying to control the narrative, trying to control how this all plays out, having someone delete comments on her posts that are less than glowing about her actions is just disingenuous.  I also take issue with the notion that this was just a “mistake” on Kristi’s part.  That is probably the most ridiculous explanation for the offense that has been committed.  It’s pretty disheartening to see people praising Kristi for her (note comments are closed) non-apology, follow-up non-clarification and being brave to speak publicly about it when she only did so because she got CAUGHT!  Because she was forced by the blogging community to answer for her actions, which she never truly provided answers for.  There is nothing brave about Kristi’s actions.  The first word that comes to my mind is – coward.  Now I’m not trying to bash Kristi or call her names, I’m just stating the obvious, which many people apparently have trouble facing: when someone does something wrong, they should admit the offense and not hide behind an array of excuses.  After all, wasn’t it Kristi herself who said that there are no excuses for plagiarism?

Inquiring minds want to know:

1. Kristi, you have nothing to hide, right? Why ask the other bloggers to keep the matter private?  So that you can save face?  So that authors, publisher, and your followers would never find out about your dirty deeds?

2. Kristi, why lie about visiting these blogs? Why pretend that you don’t know what they are talking about and that you have never heard of their blog?

3. Kristi, you’ve done nothing wrong, right? Why delete your posts then?  Why try and erase all additional evidence that could exonerate you?

Tell Me Why:

1. Many people have voiced their outrage over this debacle via Twitter, their blogs, etc. How was it received?  As would be expected, their character was impugned and they were accused of being mean, called names, bullying Kristi, of being hyperbolic, spewing vitriol.  Seriously?  So now those people are genuinely being bullied into remaining silent?  Just because someone says something that you don’t want to hear or face up to, doesn’t mean that they are being vindictive, etc.  I haven’t seen anything of the sort online with respect to this issue.  I haven’t seen any personal attacks against Kristi.

2. There was some dust up on Twitter yesterday because someone started a #StopThe StorySiren hashtag.  While it can come off as snarky, amusing, annoying or even offensive to some, is it really a CRIME?  Like stealing someone else’s work/thoughts and passing them off as your own?  I would say that it’s not tactful, probably unnecessary, but I didn’t really have a problem with it.

3. I get the impression that the general consensus among stalwart and borderline sycophantic supporters of Kristi is that what she did wasn’t wrong, she can do no wrong or it’s not a big deal.  Really?  If it was someone else and not your “friend” would you have the same opinion?  I think this is a valid question and it’s not meant to be snarky.

I think it’s unfortunate that this plagiarism incident has turned into a complete shit show.  The damage control and back peddling is in full swing.  I’m disappointed that so many so called “seasoned” and “legitimate” bloggers can’t seem to be objective because it involves their friend.  This is the height of hypocrisy.  I’ve lost a lot of respect for many bloggers and the community as a whole.  My mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “Just because you do something wrong or that I don’t like, it doesn’t mean that I don’t still love you.”  I hated being reprimanded as a child and I’m sure Kristi doesn’t want to deal with it as an adult.  I’m also sure that there are plenty of people who still like Kristi as a person, it’s just hard to respect her or really believe anything that she says.  Her credibility is seriously lacking.  Me stating my opinion here is not me being mean or personally attacking her.

In conclusion, just be honest.  People can respect that.  People can stand by that.  Be principled, have standards, character and be a decent human being.  Even if you did something intentional and knowingly wrong, it’s easier for people to forgive and forget if you actually own up to your faults and are contrite, not passive-aggressive.  Don’t double speak an issue to death.  Be straightforward, clear and concise.

Many thanks in advance to my readers and followers for taking the time to read this post.  I promise not to deviate time and time again from what we all really love talking about, and that’s books, reviews, our favorite characters and the authors that we love.

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20 Responses to “Drama, Double Standards and Deception…A Bloggers Plagiarism Manifesto!

  1. Natasha (Wicked Lil Pixie)No Gravatar
    1

    Thank you! Cause I clearly don’t see why the very same people who would have had their fires lit and attacking anyone ELSE who had done the same thing are saying “it’s okay, we all make mistakes”.

    No CHILDREN make mistakes, grown women who spend varying amounts of time on the blog they “borrowed” from sure as hell know right from wrong.

    Am I in some alternate universe that says it’s okay to borrow someone elses work, after claiming I wasn’t there to begin with, is okay because of who I she is.

    Cause clearly I missed the memo that said it was okay to steal because of who you are. And THAT is another issue.

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  2. GRIT & GLAMOURNo Gravatar
    2

    FINALLY, someone is asking the very questions I’ve left in comments on other posts in which people have accused Beautifully Invisible and I of plagiarism.

    If she’s not guilty, why try to keep it on the down-low?

    If she’s not guilty, why doesn’t she vehemently deny the claim and proclaim her innocence?

    If she’s not guilty, why delete all posts related to the subject?

    If she’s not guilty, why not post a scathing retaliation instead of a semi-apology?

    You know why? Well, of course you do. Because those are the actions of a GUILTY person!

    Anyway, thanks for this post. I’m glad to see that there are some people who recognize the lunacy of the head-in-the-sand, it’s-OK-you-said-you’re-sorry sycophants.

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  3. LilyNo Gravatar
    3

    I agree, what she did was wrong. You’re list of questions were spot on.

    I also agree with Natasha in her comment about how the supporters would be attacking anyone else who did the same thing.

    As someone who has only been a blogger for a little over a year and I struggle to get the handful of readers I have, it really upsets me that this happened.

    I agree that her “apologies” were half-assed. To me it came across as she is more afraid of the backlash from publishers then the community.

    I know I myself will not be reading her blog anymore I’ll stick with you and others like Tynga and RJ.

    On the other hand, I also think that it’s done, over everyone has picked their victim, it has gone a bit far in the hashtag and it’s time to move on.

    But as my mother and grandmother would say. “She brought it on herself and the shit always hits the fans…”

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  4. LilyNo Gravatar
    4

    Update to Grit and Glamour.

    I am very sorry that you and your friends have been vilified in this.

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  5. Amanda PNo Gravatar
    5

    I like you stay out of pretty much all blogging drama, I’m a blogger but stay on the fringes. I rarely even participate in meme’s because I don’t have much time and I’m basically a loner by nature. However, even I have heard of this current scandal and it just amazes me that plagiarism in any form is an “accident”. I mean really how hard is it to site a source? If I grab a summary from an outside source it takes me all of about 5 seconds to type where I got it from. Hell, even if I get an author announcement from somewhere like FaceBook I don’t pawn it off like I magically got the info. I say I saw this on the authors FB and copy paste their announcement with quotations. Come on people, you learned this ish from as early as grade school. It’s not hard and it should be ingrained into your mind.

    I have a couple of blogs, sometimes I do movie reviews, and I’m lazy so I’ll post the same review on both blogs. I had a blogger who saw the same review and didn’t know I had two blogs. She came to me about the fact she saw the same review on another blog, I have to say I really appreciated that she took the time to give me a heads up that someone may have been plagiarizing me. Now, if I do that I reference back to the other blog to let readers know it’s a duplicate. Things like this clears up any doubt about where the information/opinion/review comes from.

    I don’t know if I’m the only one that finds this even more abhorrent, that Kristi’s blog is a young adult book blog. So you’re reviewing young adult content so theoretically your target readers would be young adults, yet she took an action that we should be teaching our young adults to NEVER do. Great leading by example, especially to our young readers! If this had happened while in school on a paper she would have kicked out. There should be some sort of consequence from an illegal action.

    I want to thank you for taking the time to express your opinions. I think you are right on the mark!

    Amanda P
    http://www.paranormalromacenovel.com

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  6. MeghanNo Gravatar
    6

    What I’d like to know is why is everyone still kissing her ass? Is the blogging community really gonna let this go that easily?

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  7. Jackie (Literary Escapism)No Gravatar
    7

    Disclaimer: I’m not justifying Kristi’s action or saying she’s a victim or anything. Point blank, she’s guilty and there needs to be some kind of repercussions.

    However, something has been bugging me. This happened 4 months ago, why is the drama just now hitting? The ladies involved didn’t state names or make it public. It was their choice and everything has been resolved. If they didn’t name her, why should she have done it. I’ve been plagiarized and have never asked the guilty party to post a public apology. They’ve apologized to me (the party that matters), took down the post(s), and we moved on. Is it because of who she is? Because she is a big YA blogger? If it had been a newbie, would we have shouted for the public apology or been happy to console the victim?

    Bullying in any form is just wrong. I don’t care if the person being bullied is guilty of something.

    I only know of the Story Siren as a site and I’ve never been to it. I don’t know Kristi, so I’m not saying any of this in defense of her. I’m just honestly curious. Yes, once she was outed by whoever did it, she should have come forward with an apology, and she did. So maybe the timing was off, but there’s very few of us bloggers who do this who don’t have a day job. But it’s been four months and the affected parties have moved on (or so I’m assuming). Why aren’t we using the fabulous post Beautifully Invisible has written about their experience as a lesson on how to find our own plagiarizers and move on ourselves? Again, I have to wonder, would this be the shit storm it is if it wasn’t the Story Siren and someone much smaller?

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  8. Alexia561No Gravatar
    8

    Excellent post! You put it much better than I did, and asked the questions I’ve been wondering myself. Well done!

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  9. LilyNo Gravatar
    9

    LE,

    I think what’s really upsetting is how she cried so loud when her shit was stolen and she posted about how bad it is to plagiarize.

    Not just that, but the fact that she tried to sweep it under the rug and get away with it by lying.

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  10. Jackie (Literary Escapism)No Gravatar
    10

    Lily,

    I’m not really familiar with her, so I had no clue she had done that until I started reading the posts from other people. I’m not saying she should be getting off or anything, I’m just caught up on the timing and whatnot.

    Plus, it’s just another case of plagiarism that’s been going on lately. It’s sad and pathetic that people feel like they can do it and get away with it, but there’s a new case every week it seems like.

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  11. T MartinNo Gravatar
    11

    Thank you for posting this.I agree with you whole-heartily and also said the same thing about her giving a half-assed apology.But unfortunately if a book can be clearly plagiarized and nothing is done about it them same would happen to bloggers.The reason why the original bloggers did not come forward was they didn’t want anything dealing with legal matters to happen which doesn’t make any sense to me.That’s like saying I’m afraid of suing the guy that broke my arm because he might sue me.I wouldn’t have a big issue with it if she had just own up to it like an adult would.But karma is going to happen either way and unfortunately for her it’s starting to hit hard.

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  12. maidenveilNo Gravatar
    12

    Thank you for sharing an in-depth post about the issue. I just heard about this yesterday. I a firm believer that plagiarism of any degree is plagiarism. It’s not only a copy-paste thing. That’s why in schools, we are taught to properly cite sources. It wouldn’t hurt to include that you heard it somewhere or from someone just to note that it came from someone else. If you can’t remember from where or who then just say it. Put disclaimers or footnotes. I am all for blogger camaraderie but I feel that we should put this in perspective and focus on the issue which is the plagiarism that took place.

    I love Kristi. I’ve been a follower of her blog for years, but it doesn’t cloud my opinion of what she apparently did. For someone who is deemed as a professional blogger, I think she fell short on her actions towards this ordeal.

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  13. SharonSNo Gravatar
    13

    T Martin is right about the karma thing. Plagiarism probably could have been forgiven, but hypocrisy on top of that not so much. If she spearheaded an aggressive campaign against those who plagiarized her, then she can expect nothing less. Gives us insight into how authors feel when their stuff gets pirated. Only for them there is the loss of revenue involved.

    and Angela, L.E. was the first blog I found when getting into books and reviews and she set the bar for what I think a good blog should be like:) on top of that she is always helpful when I ask for advice. I have heard bloggers talk about competition and not so friendly bloggers, but I thankfully have never run into anyone like that.

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  14. KatiebabsNo Gravatar
    14

    Angela, you humble me. ((hugs)).

    As for your post, you said it perfectly, I’m still trying to gather my thoughts about this entire situation.

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  15. Abigail [All Things Urban Fantasy]No Gravatar
    15

    Sorry I didn’t get to chime in sooner. I’m really glad you posted about this issue. I understand where Jackie is coming from. This did happen months ago and for the most part, stayed quiet. But, once Kristi was outed as a plagiarist, it does become a huge issue because of how huge The Story Siren is. If she was a baby blogger or the site was small, we wouldn’t be talking about this. It’s because she is such a role model, authority, pioneer in the book blogging community that she is being hit so hard by the fallout of all this.

    And I think that is appropriate.

    How many bloggers are going to look at her actions (both in her original plagiarism and now in her public response) and take cues? A lot. Just look at the comments on her second post. She’s being praised left and right. Honestly, that’s almost more disturbing to me. The actual plagiarism was deplorable, but every day that goes by that she doesn’t completely abase herself to those she stole from, the authors/publishers she works with, and the blogging community, and 100% confess and acknowledge her theft, she makes the whole thing worse.

    She is a role model even in this situation. I really wish she would take that into consideration in her future responses and drop the excuses and doublespeak. Her theft have given all of us black eye and it doesn’t appear to me that she’s fully owned up to her action with the contrition that this situation demands.

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  16. LilyNo Gravatar
    16

    Well said Abigail.

    Aside from the lying (Which as you’ve all stated has made this worse.)

    What upsets me a lot is how it’s split the community. I’m waiting for the badges to come out on who everyone supports. The whole thing is disgusting.

    As a small time blogger, I feel ashamed to be in the community were some people are excusing what’s happened.

    A few weeks ago my car was broken into, nothing was taken I didn’t have anything to take. But I’d be livid if someone said something to me about how “The poor thief” must feel or “You don’t know why did it.” ect.

    How is what she did any different? She needs to grow a pair and make a REAL apology first to BI and to G&G. THEN she needs to apologize to the community for all this.

    The shit has hit the fan, and I for one am glad the truth came out.

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  17. AngelaNo Gravatar
    17
    Author Comment

    Thanks for taking the time to comment guys.

    Lily – Yes, I think you make a great point that it does come down to the deception and lying. The committed offense was enough and people could try and stomach it, but then all the lies on top of it are just too much.

    Abigail – Thanks for giving me your thoughts. I agree with you 100%. This will certainly set the tone for what new bloggers or even current bloggers will do in the future. If people think they can get away with it, then they will do it. The sad part about it is that so many people think it’s acceptable. I assure you that if it was anyone other than Kristi who committed the crime, they would certainly be doing the time. There is no question that Kristi did not handle this situation appropriately. I just don’t see how she can continue to be viewed as a role model.

    Sharon S. – Your point is well taken. The only thing that a lot of the blogger community is left wondering is why so many authors are silent on the issue. In any other instance authors have been vocal about this very issue. The idea that they frequent the site and actively promote themselves on it speaks volumes. Is that a healthy association? You know they would cry foul if it was their work that was stolen. If I’m not mistaken, Paranormal Night Owl Reviews wasn’t so lucky. That site got completely shut down and held accountable by the community.

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  18. AngelaNo Gravatar
    18
    Author Comment

    T Martin – There has since me additional update from BI here: http://www.beautifully-invisible.com/2012/04/a-tale-of-plagiarism-continued-clarification-of-the-story-sirens-clarification.html

    There is simply no question that things were poorly handled by Kristi. I can’t speak to how BI should have approached it in January, but the fact is they have appeared to be respectful. They truly could have out The Story Siren on blast in January. I don’t know that the legal issue would have been the key factor in keeping silent. Point of fact is that Kristi didn’t stand her ground and her actions have been those of a guilty person. The evidence against her is overwhelming.

    I’ve updated some links on my post:

    UPDATE: Kristi’s post has been archived: http://web.archive.org/web/20110103164916/http://www.thestorysiren.com/2010/04/my-one-piece-of-advice.html

    UPDATE: Letter has now been archived. Read the referenced letter to the 11 year old from Kristi: http://pastebin.com/C59JvAKZ

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  19. Jen K JovusNo Gravatar
    19

    I agree with you Abigail, where is the accountability?

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  20. ComaCalmNo Gravatar
    20

    *raises hand* I started the #StopTheStorySiren hashtag. Er… sorry about that. It was kinda… stupid really. I prefer #StopPlagiarism which isn’t used nearly enough.

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