Thursday, April 26, 2012

Plagiarism, Reactions, and In My Mailbox

I've liked participating in the In My Mailbox meme for the simple fact that I get to tell you guys all about the books I'm excited to have gotten over the week. But a couple of things lately have me rethinking my participation.

The big one, of course, is the plagiarism accusations and scandal levied at The Story Siren blog, which hosts In My Mailbox. Cuddlebuggery has dubbed this "Sirengate" and has an excellent explanation of why it matters and why this is a big deal to the blogging community. In my earlier post on the plagiarism, I stated that due to Kristi's second, much clearer and more heartfelt apology, I stated that I would have no problem continuing to participate in the IMM meme. However since then, having seen the extreme reactions to this incident, I've rethought my position and my actions. Most of the book blogging community seems to be divided into two very different, very extreme camps. There are those who are going after Kristi (The Story Siren), deriding not only her plagiarism but also her reviews, other posts, and her general demeanor. There's a feeling of jealousy or at least comeuppance, in all of that. And then on the other side there are plenty of bloggers and readers who are treating what she did extremely lightly, pointing out that everyone makes mistakes, praising her for her apology, and saying that they will continue to support her as they always have.

Both of these positions make me feel just the slightest bit sad at the blogging community. To quote from Cuddlebuggery's post:
It's very likely that Kristi from The Story Siren will never truly receive any comeuppance for her theft. I would probably bet that, ultimately, she will continue to grow and prosper. The moral high ground is not as high as it was before this scandal. While the majority of bloggers will continue to agree that plagiarism is wrong, the severity of the social stigma has officially waned for us.
Their entire post is wonderful and well worth reading as they bring out lots of necessary points.

In light of all of this, and also the fact that by tweeting and blogging about "Sirengate" I've sort of opened myself up as a public voice about it, I feel the need to clarify just where I stand and what my actions will be going forward.

First of all, the fact that this wasn't a straight-up copy-and-paste case of plagiarism, as well as the fact that the topics of the blog posts lend themselves to similarity anyway, makes the whole thing less black-and-white than many would like to think. However, I did read the original posts and the screenshots of Kristi's posts and in my opinion it's obvious that while she didn't steal the words, she did steal the content -- almost as if she used their posts as a template or outline for what she wrote. If Kristi had linked back to the original blogs, stating them as inspiration, or better yet asked the bloggers if she could use them, this would be a completely different story for me. But yes, what she did was plagiarism.

I accept Kristi's second apology. Not because it was a super-great apology or anything, but because I think she honestly is regretful of what she did and how it has impacted the blogging community at large. However, apology or not, damage has been done, and a good amount of it. The fact that she probably won't be as tarnished by this as much of the blogging community will be (not only the collective reputation hurt by what she did, but also and especially by how we have reacted to it) worries me. It's not just one post she plagiarized, but six posts, and the fact that it was so much seems to be a little overloooked here. This was not a one-time occurrence: she stole content from multiple websites, for multiple posts -- it was ongoing plagiarism.

I feel the need to take some sort of stand, not against Kristi, but against what she did, how it was handled, and how the blogging community has reacted to it. This is the reason for my posts on the subject and this is (part of) the reason that I've rethought my personal participation in IMM. The other reason is that while most of the books I end up getting are ones I'm really excited about, there are some (sent randomly by publishers) that I don't have much to say about and in some cases might not even read -- often because the books are a genre I don't read/review or for whatever reason the book just doesn't appeal to me. And really what I want to talk about are the books that I'm excited about.

Which brings me to the point this super-long post: I will no longer be doing IMM. Instead I will be doing my own feature, All The Books, where instead of listing the books I've received in the past week I'll talk about the books I got and am excited about, the books I'm planning to read soon, new editions to my wishlist, as well as book deals and covers that I'm excited about. So as the title says, any book-related excitement that I'd like to share on the blog.


  1. Well, I'm excited to see your first All The Books :)

  2. Sounds like a wonderful feature. Looking forward to seeing the first post!

  3. This sounds great - is this something you're going to run for others to join in with? If so I'd definitely join in :) x

    1. If I can figure out how to set up some sort of Linky I'd like to do that. If not, you can still feel free to participate/use the meme/feature on your own blog.

      So, yes.

  4. Jordan INLINKZ (I think is super easy to use :)