Stop GR Bully Site: Wake Up Call, Books Aren’t People

For those who don’t know I use Good Reads.  I love the site.  It’s probably my favorite out of all the social media tools.  It’s actually one I can relate to, unlike Twitter which gives me a headache, Facebook which gives me way too much information about my friends, and Pinterest which can sometimes be a little odd and borderline creepy at times (seriously, people.  I do not want to see what a dream wedding with Tom Cruise would look like).  Good Reads though is great.  I’ve met lots of new friends and have been able to interact with them about books.  And I love books.  I love talking about them.   And for that matter reading people’s opinions both good and bad.

Since the days of book blogging there has been issues surrounding negative reviews.  Personally, I like them.   Obviously, authors are people too, but the book itself is a product.  I have talked about why I support negative reviews in a previous post and I’m not going to dig deeper into that issue today.  Instead, I’m going to talk about bullying.

Fact: I spent most of my junior high and high school years being bullied because I wasn’t athletic, didn’t wear the right clothes, didn’t like being sexually harassed, and just came off as a little quiet and timid.

It wasn’t right and because of that I have developed a real distaste for bullying.  Bullying can come in many forms .  It’s not just directly physically harming or  insulting an individual.   Indirect threats, subtle harassment,  and cyber bullying are all forms of bullying.  It’s a real issue.  There are people who are killing themselves because they are getting picked on.  It’s not something to take lightly and should be dealt with appropriately.

That being said I think people often misinterpret what is and what is not bullying.  Case in point, Stop the Good Read Bullies (Note: I originally had the link here to that God awful site, but have since pulled it since I do NOT want to give that abomination of a site traffic).

Yep, that site does exist.  And  honestly it’s doing more harm than good.  Let’s dissect  some of the values this “stellar” website offers

Point One: Negative Reviewers are Bullies

The people that are targeted on this site aren’t bullies.  All of the people that have been targeted on this site have been targeted for negative book reviews or out of context remarks they had made about a review(usually defending someones review from a troll).  They are talking about how they feel about a book not an author, despite what this out of context site would have you think.  As far as I’m concerned books aren’t people.  However, the people who wrote the reviews and comments are.  Posting their photos, personal information,  threatening to stalk them, and defaming them is not appropriate behavior.  Even if they were bullying the author this is still not the sort of appropriate steps to take.

Point Two:  The Only Way to Fight Bullying is through Bullying

Fighting bullying with more bullying is not a way to combat bullying.  The site runners say that they are following the advice of a school principal.  I don’t think any school administrator would advise a student who is being bullied to fight right back.  First of all, the advice is just wrong on a moral level.  No one deserves to be abused, even an abuser.  Furthermore,  that advice would make them liable should the bully victim act out violently.  It’s just wrong on so many levels.

Being a victim of bullying myself, I found that the only way to stop the bullying was to find myself an advocate.  My teachers weren’t helping me and the principal blew me off because my bullies happened to be some of the best athletes in my school.  Needless to say, I was miserable and so I ended up confiding in my father who fixed the situation for me within days.    Let’s just put it this way, my dad did not harass or bully back my tormentors at school.  That’s not what advocates do.  Rather, he went to the administrators and talked to them calmly and logically about the potential ramifications that would happen to them if they allowed this behavior to continue.  And yes, there are ramifications to bullying.  People can be held liable, if the bullying escalates it can lead into even criminal charges .   It doesn’t matter what the bullying is over, if you’re defending someone, when it boils down to it bullying is bullying and it’s going to hurt people.

Point Three: Posting Private Information about Individuals is okay—because it’s on the internet

Sure, the information might be on the internet.  But do you have permission to use it?  Furthermore, do you really think these individuals want all the private information revealed especially in the light you’re showing it in.  Essentially any sort of  information can be found on the internet these days if you know where to look.  That doesn’t mean it’s fair game for your use to defame these individuals.  These people have lives outside Good Reads,.  Posting information like this is not only tacky, but it can be potentially dangerous as well.  What if these individuals have a stalker or something?  You don’t know them personally.  You could potentially be causing them harm and that’s not a good thing.

Point Four: This Site is meant to be an Anti-Bullying Site

Bull shit.  Anti-bullying sites reach out to victims.  They help them realize that things do get better and they sure as don’t advocate bullying.  In fact, there were some anti-bullying sites  that were upset about this site’s behavior that they asked the site to remove the anti-bullying banners that they had up. See here for more details.

Thoughts and Conclusions:

I don’t like drama.  But I also don’t like seeing people be attacked.  Being a victim of bullies myself, I find this sort of thing absolutely disgusting.  Posting information like this on a website is wrong in so many ways.  It endangers people’s privacy and safety and for that I cannot condone it or anyone who condones this website.

Links For Actual Anti-Bullying Sites:

Stop Bullying

It Gets Better

Anti Bullying Network

Advertisements

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.