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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Caught: Plagiarism in YA Book Blogging

Making major news in the book blogging community: Kristi from The Story Siren has been caught plagiarizing a number of different articles. I first found out about it via Jordyn at Ten Cent Notes. I recommend you read Jordyn's article if you're not familiar with this story. There is also a very well-written article on The Book Lantern on plagiarism and blog hierarchy that I think you should all read.

Edited to add:  Via Ten Cent Notes, an article from Dear Author, with some background info on the plagiarism:
A group of four bloggers noticed in January of 2012 that six posts of their work had been lifted and reused, without attribution, on a large YA blogger’s site. The first blogged about it here...there are enough clues such as it is a YA book blogger, one who wrote about plagiarism on her own site, whose site template looks like this with to connect the alleged plagiarist with The Story Siren.
The original content creators identified her IP address which showed that she had been on their sites as recently as January. The plagiarist then offered an apology claiming that it was done unknowingly and requested that the matter be kept a secret.
The Story Siren is the massively popular, if not the most well-known, YA book blog out there. She hosts the IMM feature, and from what I have read of her blog, hosts numerous giveaways and contests, and receives tons of freebies. To say that the book blogging community has been taken aback would be a bit of an understatement. Emotions were/are running high, and The Story Siren has even posted a new statement regarding the events.  The reactions of book bloggers, blog readers, and Story Siren followers appears to run the gamut from 'Oh, we're human and make mistakes',  'I heart you!!!" to 'You have disappointed me' to 'I don't think I want to read your blog anymore' to nastier comments.

What do you guys make of this? Do you think that The Story Siren is being treated differently- i.e. in a more kindly, forgiving, supportive fashion- than lesser known bloggers would have been?? I want to add some quotes from Ceilidh's article on The Book Lantern:
[The Story Siren] is a blogger who frequently rallied against blog plagiarism, and also admitted her own tearful heartbreak over having been plagiarised herself. I ask you this: Did you feel any sympathy for those who Diehm plagiarised? I saw no offers of hand holding and support for those women on twitter last night, only abuse. If this had been any other lesser known blogger, would you have been so kind?...This is a blogger who knew exactly what she was doing. The IP address logs back that up. This is a blogger who should know better, one who wrote several pieces on blog plagiarism, one with a reputation that she has smashed to pieces
Why are [people] defending her when the evidence proves her guilt? I have seen much smaller YA blogs receive much larger amounts of criticism and anger for doing exactly what Diehm did. What makes The Story Siren untouchable?
Do you think the amount of attention being paid to this story of plagiarism is absolutely just and necessary? In comparison, cases of plagiarism (in exams or papers) in college and university are huge, life-affecting, pretty much unforgivable offenses. People have lost out on scholarships and funding because of it.

Do you think this case will harm the reputation of book bloggers as a whole?


  1. I think she's getting both more support AND more hate because of who she is. I think it's a big deal, what happened, and it brings up some huge questions (not about her per see, but about blogging and plagiarism in general) that I worry might not get discussed just because it may be seen as hate and because people are SO emotional and divided on this issue.

    1. Thanks for your great article.

      And I agree: bigger issues regarding plagiarism in blogging need to be addressed. NOT just the person(s) involved. I think the bigger picture may get lost in the emotion.

  2. No one would tolerate this kind of thing in any other publishing venue. Academic careers, writing careers, publishing careers have ended due to charges of plagiarism. The only people plagiarism doesn't affect are those people who weren't really taken seriously in the first place. The people that are calling to "forgive" The Story Siren should really think twice about the message they are sending. If she is not held up to the same standard according to which all other writers in other forms are judged then she ends up making a mockery of the blog form itself. The Story Siren and all her little followers are spreading the message that we shouldn't really treat blogging as a legitimate form of writing, that plagiarism may be an issue for other writers, but not for bloggers, because bloggers aren't "really" writers. They aren't creative. They're work is not as valuable as a novelist's, poet's, or a journalist's. Is that the message they want to spread? Do they really hold bloggers and their work in such low esteem? I have too much respect for bloggers and writer's to be so dismissive of such an egregious act by a writer.

    1. I just read The Story Siren's newest apology for her acts , and she seems to admit her mistake and acknowledge how terrible it was for the blogging community. Although I am glad for the admission, I am still a bit wary. She has lost a good deal of good faith from her community of readers, and she will need to work to get it back. How do we know she is not just trying to deal with the backlash or just trying to keep her readership up? How do we know she is in earnest? This is the problem with a breach of trust for anyone in any situation - we are all happy to give our trust, but once it is broken, it is so hard to put back together.

    2. I think one of your points in particular is fantastic: that how certain readers are responding is basically illustrated that "we shouldn't really treat blogging as a legitimate form of writing, that plagiarism may be an issue for other writers, but not for bloggers, because bloggers aren't "really" writers. They aren't creative. They're work is not as valuable as a novelist's, poet's, or a journalist's." Book bloggers work their asses off, in writing reviews, reading, etc. And their work should be treated with respect and taken seriously. It is not "just blogging". If we don't take our work seriously, no one outside the world of blogging will.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment.

    3. I agree that we need to treat ourselves seriously as book bloggers if we expect others to (i.e. publishers, authors, etc.) If we want to continue building these professional relationships, we need to be able to meet the standards that other writers are held to.

    4. I agree with Koji... I'm surprised that she hasn't been run out on a rail. If this was any other venue, she would have been. End of story.