The Aftermath of Plagiarism

In case you haven’t heard, yesterday news broke that the popular young adult blog The Story Siren, written by Kristi Diehm was accused of plagiarism in January of this year. You can read how this plagiarism was discovered here and here. In that article, they do not name The Story Siren, deciding to keep her name private. However, yesterday it was discovered that it was for sure The Story Siren who was the plagiarizer, which is why the drama unfolded a few months after the the original date of the post. I also want to say that Smart Bitches has a very thorough post on the whole ordeal.

I’m always so shocked when I hear of plagiarism cases. I’m completely baffled by the “why” and “how” of the whole thing. Especially coming from The Story Siren, who is a veteran and prolific blogger. Why do this? In her second apology (see below) she states:

Was I feeling pressure to do something new and engaging? Something helpful and interesting? I was. Had I only paid more attention to where my inspiration was coming at the time, I should have handled the situation much differently. A simple email asking for permission or a link back should have happened. And I didn’t do it. I’ve preached that thousands of times. I lacked in taking my own advice.

The Story Siren did post an “Explanation and Apology” last night (one that I find to be very weak at best). Today, she has posted a “Clarification” which in my eyes is a much stronger apology.

I’m not going to go on and on about plagiarism and how it angers me to no end that people steal other people’s content. But I do want to say that I may not agree with every romance blogs opinions on books, or find their style appealing to me. But I do appreciate every blog in this community for bringing romance topics and books to the public. I have respect for my fellow bloggers. Unfortunately when you plagiarize, I lose that respect.

So my question is, what now? And I’m not just directing this specifically to The Story Siren. If you discovered a blog that you frequent regularly had posted plagiarized material, what would you do next?

Accept the apology, case closed, let’s move on? Take a break from that blog, but eventually return? Demand the blogger stop blogging altogether?

I know of a few plagiarism occurrences since I started blogging, and to this day when I hear their name, plagiarism is the first thing that comes to my mind. For me personally, it taints them. I get that we are human and make mistakes and I’m not saying I will shun these people forever. But for me it takes time to build up that trust again. So hey – lesson here – just don’t do it.

Comments

  1. says

    Me personally, wont ever go to someone’s site after they have plagiarized, because I will always wonder if it’s someone else’s thoughts. Then again, I tend to choose my review blogs off the authors themselves.

    For example, the two blogs I visit most are probably this one, and Fiction Vixen. I am absolutely smitten with both Mandi, Sophia and the girls that review for both sites. I like them as people, they talk to me on Twitter, and in turn, I like to help promote their hard work, their blogs. If I found someone on Twitter that I didn’t agree with, that I thought was rude or mean or just had a personality that clashed with mine, I wont read their blog.

    But that’s just me. :)

  2. says

    You quote someone (one sentence blurb) and don’t include proper credit or a link, that is wrong but it probably wouldn’t make me run away forever – if they came clean and corrected it. More than that and I’d be hard pressed to find a reason to stick around.

  3. Janna McCooeye says

    You are a blogger, that is what you’ve chosen to do. Bring YOUR word and opinion to those out there that want to read it. You decide to use someone else’s work without giving them credit. You are stealing. Plain and simple. I agree with your statement that it will be the first thing you think of when you hear her name. How could it not?

    You can’t meet a deadline, don’t have anything to say, dog ate your computer, whatever the reason you can’t put words to paper (screen) that are your own, tell your readers that. It will be more appreciated than being lied to.

    Copying someone’s work doesn’t just happen. You think about doing it, you look or see a piece of work that you like, you cut and paste or retype, you know what you are doing. You’ve thought it out, you are just hoping not to get caught.

    Shady.

  4. says

    Dunno how good her 2nd one is either. The way it just happened by mistake when whole paragraphs were alike…oh well.
    Truth be told I never followed her, i just heard about her cos she was big. And I am angry of course, but mostly I am just so disappointed. She was big, she was respected, and she does that?

    Will I read her blog now..now, disappointed. If you do not have something to say, do not say anything at all. Don’t steal just to keep up.

  5. jenny Lyn says

    Here’s what I don’t get about it: Why not just ask the other blogger if they mind if you share their post and promise to give them the proper credit for it. I’d be willing to bet 9 times out of 10 they’d probably agree. It’s a win/win for both parties. You’ve got a blog post and the sharer will likely see increased traffic to their site too. It’s a form of cross-promotion. Whereas when you steal something outright, you’ve created a shit-storm, to be quite blunt. You’ve alienated yourself from your fellow bloggers (which IS a community) and you’ve tainted yourself in the eyes of your loyal readers.

    Will this cost her followers? Hard to say. If I were a follower of hers, yes. Absolutely. But I’m an adult. From just the little bit I’ve read on this particular blogger, I understand her blog is geared toward YA novels. She does a lot of giveaways on her site. Young girls tend to be more cliquish and catty. I think her younger audience will likely be way more forgiving than I would.

    • says

      For me, I just go and ask my fellow bloggers to do a guest post for me if I don’t have any ideas for a post of my own. That way, even if I didn’t write it, they are credit as a guest poster.

      • jenny Lyn says

        Exactly. My thing is it never hurts to ask. All someone can say is no. But by “asking” you’ve opened up a dialogue between you and your fellow blogger. Maybe they’ll want to collaborate with you on future posts. And I know a lot of the book review blogs I follow have Blogrolls where they share the love. Why would you want to damage that sense of community? It’s selfish, IMO.

  6. says

    Wow that was surprising. I didn’t expect it at all.
    When I do a post that is not mine, I always try to credit the people, unless it’s Google. I’m not very good at crediting them but hey, everyone uses them.

    But as far as other bloggers or just any other authors of websites that I use their content for my blog, I make sure, right at the top of the post that I credit them. One time I had a guest post and forgot to credit the person. She told me on Twitter and I fixed it right away. It was a one-time fail for me.

  7. says

    hmmm, tuff one. My blog is a small fish in the big pond so maybe I don’t feel the same pressure to have to keep up with everyone else. If there is day I can’t fill, oh well! It’s not like people who *really follow the blog aren’t gonna come back the next day to see if something new posts.

    I never visited this blog before yesterday, but I agree with Jenny the YA that follow her won’t care so much and will keep going back.

    • says

      I’m not that big either and I always try to credit people, or just talk about myself if anything interesting is going on. That’s why I don’t want to claim that I’m just one type of blog. I named it after myself because it’s more about me, and I don’t feel the need to plagiarize. And if I slip up sometimes, people are there to correct me :)

  8. says

    I guess that I just don’t understand why she couldn’t just build upon a good idea? You read someone’s blog and you feel inspired, they why can’t you just credit them at the top with a link and some wonderful words and then build upon the idea with flare of your own??

    It really minimizes her apology when she makes statements that it was done unintentionally – really?? You didn’t just read that and essentially re-post the same pics and just change the words?

    It’s just sad, sad that she didn’t immediately address it both with her fellow bloggers and with a apology post immediately on her page.

  9. may says

    for me, in blogging, someone is guilty of plagiarism if we have cut + paste of words. Not a quote, but cut/paste into your own site as if you said it.

    So that said, no, I would not read someone who cuts & pastes other people’s material as their own. Probably not ever again – as I don’t want to waste time on someone who does that.

    If we’re talking “I think __ read __ that I wrote and copied my idea!” I say STFU. Srsly. i work in a highly creative industry and more than once have come up with the same idea, technique, or other concept as someone – that i know couldn’t have taken my idea just as i know they didn’t inspire my own idea.

    It’s all so sad – just write your own words, give credit where it’s due (if it is), and keep it real.

  10. says

    For me this whole incident about her lack of response was more telling than the actual plagiarism. It is common sense to own up and really apologise especially over stealing content. There’s no unintentionally accidents or I didn’t do it on purpose. I can understand if it was a few phrases but repeatedly chunks of posts and ip log-ins and non-apologies doesn’t help the issue or the case.

    I know a few bloggers who did manage to move on from being caught and some apologised straight away. I feel with this incident – the Story Siren was like forced to apologised and sad thing is that she shouldn’t have done that BUT owned up to it straight away when this came to light in January. She would avoided much of the backlash and yes it would be embarrassing and there would be flack but she would have garnered respect for owning up to it.

    • says

      Her silence doesn’t bother me. Beautifully Invisible never named her and it’s been four months. The two came to an agreeable resolution and as far as they were concerned, it was over. Why publicize it when they didn’t. I’ve been plagiarized a couple of times and I never named the guilty party and have never requested they admit to it in a public way. It was resolved between the two of us and that was it. Why do people think she needed to publicly apologize when she wasn’t outed and the ladies kept it between themselves?

      It wasn’t until the book community found out about it this week that she had to come forward and the fact that she didn’t right away is not surprising. I’m a SAHM and even I’m not on my site consistently enough to be able to respond to everything right away. Considering the reaction of many, I would also have taken time to really formulate a reply. So her silence shouldn’t be considered as damning.

      I’m not trying to excuse or say she is a victim in all this. She’s guilty and should be recognized as such. However, I have to wonder if we would be talking about this now if it wasn’t Kristi. If it wasn’t a very popular blog site. It’s been four months and if this had happened to a smaller blogger, would there have been this big of an uproar? The affected parties have moved on, so why can’t we move on as well and look at this as a learning experience? The girls at Beautifully Invisible wrote a fabulous piece on how to detect plagiarism and I for one am going glean as much info from their post and see if I can’t apply it to my own.

      • says

        The fact is – when it came to light their original post was pretty much trackable about The Story Siren as being the one was plagiarising. They may have agreed to keep it quiet. BUT they didn’t remove that post – and it was pretty naive for her to think she would have thought this matter was closed. Just because they blogged about fashion there are bloggers and readers who have shared interests and read a variety of blogs on different subjects. Also her reaction or lack of it in owning up to it when she has been such a vocal voice against Plagiarism is hypocritical and ironic.

        I would respect her if she did own up to it straight off but the commentsshe’s getting on her site has her supporters saying its not wrong to plagiarise or she’s being bullied by meangirls. What kind of message does this say to her audience? Especially since its much worse because she is one of the leading YA bloggers?

        I am sorry that something like this has happened, but the way she handled this whole mess is a lesson on HOW not to deal with this issue. And for someone who was seen to have a great reputation for defending those who was plagiarised and to offer advice on blogging – it is ironic she’s never followed the advice she offers.

      • says

        Hiya Jackie!

        You pose a valid point: “However, I have to wonder if we would be talking about this now if it wasn’t Kristi.”

        Indeed it’s such a big deal *precisely* because it’s concerning Kristi and her very popular blog. She has previously been very vocal in condemning plagiarism in the blogging community, even describing a previous instance of “unintentional” plagiarism as inexcusable–her words–before describing how outraged SHE was about the incident, which did not affect her directly. (Those comments have since been deleted, of course.)

        It’s the magnitude of the hypocrisy that really makes it most upsetting. When you have a well-known figure rail and crusade against something, then get caught as a perpetrator of that very same condemned act, it will most certainly make larger-than-normal waves.

        But you’re absolutely right. We just need to stay aware about the use of our content. Constant vigilance! ^_^

  11. says

    Oh, wow. I didn’t know anything about this – all news to me. I am really shocked, and disgusted.

    I know ‘Alpha Reader’ had posts stolen from one of those content-collecting sites. The author Stacia Kane and, if memory serves, Patti (from FAB romance) told me about the content-stealing site. It was really upsetting, because they had stolen (among many others) my ‘Downside’ review which I worked really, really hard on (complete with picture-references and everything). I was so angry. And then I went onto that content-‘collecting’ site and found about 10 more of my Alpha Reader reviews, posted verbatim without permission.

    I wrote to them immediately. I told them to take it all down, or I would take action. Then I found content ‘collected’ from other blogs – I contacted those bloggers and told them about this content-collecting site, and urged them to write emails too.

    The site was closed down within a couple of days.

    Stacia Kane actually wrote about the incident in a blog of hers, which I was quite chuffed about:
    http://www.staciakane.net/2010/08/14/why-i-post-reviews/

  12. says

    Plagiarism is theft – plain and simple. You have stolen someone else’s ideas and words, and there is no excuse. As a college lecturer, I am constantly teaching my students about plagiarism and warning them against it citing the dire consequences including being expelled from the university. As an academic who has worked hard on writing theses and dissertations, it is painful and infuriating when someone takes credit for work that you have put your heart and soul into.

    The Story Siren is no longer a trustworthy source of information. Nothing she posts from now on can be taken at face value. Everything is tainted with her actions and I will not be visiting her blog again.

  13. says

    I have to say I was really incredulous at first then disappointed. When I started blogging Kristi’s blog was one of the firsts I found and followed. I drifted away later as I’m not a fan of YA, but I still thought Kristi to be somehwat of a blogger mentor/guru, so seeing that she plagiarised, and not just once but several times(!) even though she herself had anti-plagiarism posts(!!) really disappointed and saddened me as a blogger. Then what angered me was her 1st apology which can’t really be called that. She never mentioned that her error was plagiarism, and she never thought to apologise to her readers and followers (if not apologizing to fellow bloggers) for diappointing them, rather to the authors and publishers. That disappointed and angered me as her reader and follower.

    Her 2nd apology was better (at least she admitted to having plagiarised), but the excuses of being under pressure (aren’t we all?) and what she did not being deliberate really angered me. How can you not deliberately plagiarise someone? It is copy+paste, were you hypnotized? sleep-writing? did the voices tell you to do it? These are excuses if you steal content then at least realize the mistake you have made and take responsibility at last.

    And as to your last question, no, I won’t visit her blog anymore, and I agree, sadly (or justly) now whenever I’ll hear of her I’ll think of plagiarism.

  14. Tori says

    Stealing is stealing. Doesn’t matter if your a somebody or a nobody. I deal with this type of thing concerning my day job and it’s a real PITA having to police sites to make sure someone isn’t using my work to make their life easier. Do I have the time to do that? Honestly, no I don’t. Yet because of people like Kristi, I’m have no choice.

  15. says

    In the case of TSS, I’m no longer visiting/linking to her blog, and I’m also not going to be participating in the IMM meme anymore. Aside from IMM, this isn’t such a big deal for me because I didn’t read her blog very much at all even before this.

    However, if it were a blog I frequented, even one of my favorites, I think I’d have to take the same stand in no longer supporting that blogger.

  16. says

    Your IP address is your on-line identification and could be utilized by hackers to break into your computer, steal personal information, or commit other crimes against you.

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