Plagiarism: Why it’s Wrong, Why it’s not an Accident, and Why it Shouldn’t be Tolerated

If you’re a YA blog reader you’ve probably come across the Story Siren’s blog a few times.  God knows, I have.  The Story Siren actually helped me figure out how to improve this blog or so I thought since eventually I found out those little tips she wrote up weren’t hers.

There have been a ton of blog entries about this subject and I wasn’t going to chime in, but after some thought about it I decided to write down my own  two cents about it mainly because I was appalled how people were condoning the incident saying it was an accident and that people should just get over it.

Plagiarism is not an accident, kids.  In a way I think to copy someone’s work is harder than doing your own work since you have to search the internet  for a source to use and then tweak it appropriately.  The sad thing is people think because of these so called “tweaks” the work is original or that because they found the work on the internet it’s fair game.

Wrong!

So wrong!

First of all, merely paraphrasing other words doesn’t get you out of plagiarism because you’re taking the other persons ideas.  They’re not your own.  And by not citing them properly, you’re not only hurting the person who you copied from but your also furthering the future exploration of that idea.  For example, let’s say Scientist A writes a paper about an experiment he did and then Scientist B reads it and likes the idea.   Then Scientist B writes up a paper of his own that is eerily similar to Scientist A’s paper but doesn’t cite Scientist A.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal, right?  Since Scientist B rephrased Scientist A’s work there shouldn’t be any problem understanding the work.  However, it becomes a big deal when Scientist C wants to use the work to further his life saving research and has some questions for Scientist B.  Questions Scientist B can’t answer because he didn’t do the research necessary to get to Scientist A’s conclusion.

Yeah, you might say.  But so what?  It wasn’t the same situation with Kristi.  Her blog post wasn’t about potential lifesaving scientific discoveries it was just about blog advice that’s pretty much common knowledge.  Still, someone who read the column might have question for Kristi.  Questions she couldn’t answer because she didn’t write the piece in the first place.

Now for the issue it comes from the internet it’s public domain.  Once again, this wrong.  So freaking wrong.  If you’ve ever wrote up a paper for school and had to cite things you might note that there’s styles of citation used for the internet.  This is because people to want to find the source and that the website itself is a matter of publication.  A crappy form of publication, but still a form of publication nevertheless.

Okay, so what’s really the big deal about all of this?  Kristi didn’t hurt anyone and it really was a mistake.  I disagree with this statement wholeheartedly.  It is true that occasionally there will be accidental plagiarism.  But look at the evidence.  According to the Smart Bitches article, Kristi was on the sites which she “borrowed” her material from for long increments of time and once she was caught she wanted to keep the whole thing quiet and never really did admit to taking the others work.  And did so for almost four months.

Honestly, this is what probably pissed me off the most.  That she wanted to keep this information hidden.  Okay, I get it you screwed up and you don’t want to face the music.  But you are going to be called out sooner than later, why not put on your big girl panties and admit you screwed up.  People would’ve probably had more respect for you.  I know I would’ve.

 Captain Underpants knows when to act appropriately and just suck it up.

And if the coverup wasn’t bad enough the aftermath that was followed was even worst.  The day that the story broke Kristi remained silent for most of the day until she posted a rather lame apology.   To me and to others, this apology reeked of flip-flopping.  Kristi never admitted outright to what she did and it seemed like she had more concern about what authors and publishers thought about the situation than  her actual readers.   It also didn’t help that comments were closed to this particular post.  Outcry continued across the blogging community though and eventually she published another apology which was admittedly better, but still it seemed false especially since comments that were anti-Kristi were being taken down and then would mysteriously appear hours later after another angry burst was heard throughout the community.

Still though, despite all of this many people have defended Kristi and view any negative comments as a form of bullying which I find to be ridiculous for the most part.  Sure, there were some very angry comments out there, but they were justifiably angry.  For the most part, they weren’t attacking Kristi personally they were attacking her behavior.  Which quite honestly deserved to be attacked since what she did was deplorable.   I’m not saying that forgiveness should be off the table, but I don’t think that it should be given to someone who has not fully atoned and admitted to what they’ve done.  I also don’t think people’s anger at the situation should be repressed.  Kristi bought a lot of good things to the YA blogging community.   She has allowed her readers and follow bloggers to interact with each other by creating some pretty awesome features.  But what she did was wrong.

I know that some of you will probably disagree with me.  Probably tell me that I’m being too harsh.  But this is just my opinion on the situation.  I honestly do not believe that there will be long term effects to Kristi because of this little incident.  Her blog is well established and I don’t think she will lose too many readers or precious ARC’s because of this.  But  I do know that she lost my respect not for the plagiarism so much as a lack of respect for her readers and fellow bloggers.

Feel free to chime in, I won’t delete comments but try to keep them civil that’s all I ask.

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4 thoughts on “Plagiarism: Why it’s Wrong, Why it’s not an Accident, and Why it Shouldn’t be Tolerated

  1. wow… Someone who is so successful in the blogging community…. It's like when you find out that a famous athlete is on steriods. Disappointing as well as upsetting. I don't follow her blog, never have (never will honestly), but I see her blog button everywhere. She lost a lot of respect. -Zhanna @ A Match Made in YA Fiction

  2. That's a great analogy to the entire situation, Zhanna. It really is such a shame because Kristi really did bring a lot to the YA blogosphere. I was never a big fan of her reviews, but I did love how interactive her features were though. I never did participate in any of them.

  3. I'm really sad people are acting like there is some sort of grey area here, what she did is wrong. That shouldn't be up for debate, it doesn't matter who she is or how 'popular' or 'powerful' her blog is, wrong is wrong. Am I saying everything she does in her blog is wrong? not necessarily, but what she did was wrong and she should be held accountable.

  4. I agree with you wholeheartedly, Alex, that's the reason I wrote this post. I've had the displeasure of being a victim of plagiarism before so I am sort of passionate about this issue. I think what was so appalling about this was that Kristi herself, in the past, wrote anti-plagerisum articles. So in a essence she sort of made a mockery of the whole situation. Sigh….And yes, she should be held accountable. But I think in the end she won't. The situation will be known by people in the blogging world, but new readers won't know of it and since her blog is so established and is known by many as "the" YA blog I don't think she'll receive the blacklash like most people would.

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