I wasn't going to get involved. Honestly, I was just going to continue watching from the sidelines like the world's creepiest stalker. No, seriously, whenever someone puts up a blog post about this or there's an hour long discussion on Twitter, I am there following the action. It's actually really pathetic spending all my time reading about this stuff. But plagiarism is a serious issue and to see the parties involved was surprising. So, I'm finally just going to speak.
First off, I'm in college. As most people know, or at least should know, colleges have a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism. In fact, my school takes it a step further. If a professor catches someone plagiarizing, and they know without a doubt that it was done intentionally they will not only fail the student (there's a few hundred dollars down the drain) but they will also bring this up to the administration, who will take action and expel the student. Yes, this has happened, because in the academic setting it is about integrity. They even call it, Academic Integrity!
In my Ethics class about three weeks ago we had a discussion about this, because in that class we don't get exams, we have three paper's to write throughout the semester. In my Ethics class there were over six cases of plagiarism, which is why our professor thought it necessary to bring the subject into question. In the academic setting, he explained, some of the reasons for plagiarism is down right fear of failing the class, it is not understanding so a student goes against the professors specific instruction not to get outside sources and they claim that thought as their own; it is because they are downright lazy. Whatever reason, my professor explained, they don't matter because at the college level taking someone else's idea and making it your own is a conscious choice, and they can't cry, I didn't know or It was a mistake or whatever. We are adults. Only children make this claim.
So, obviously this has nothing to do with the academic setting, but a book blogging setting. I was not going to get involved because I had thought this would be a fun community who all got together to talk about the things they love: BOOKS! This is the last place I expected drama to occur.
Now, I am not judging Kristi. As much as I want, I'm not. Why am I not? Because I don't know her personally, I don't even really follow TSS. I don't read her reviews very much, I don't enter her contest; honestly, I only go to TSS to hear about new books. I like her IMM post (which I haven't been to since this whole thing blew up) I like hearing about new bookish news that she presents, and I like how diverse her reading is and ever since I started to read her blog I've grown in diversity with my own reading.
As stated, I am not judging her. But, I do have to express my disappointment. I have friends who are all aspiring writers, who put so much soul into their words that when someone else takes them and tries to pass it off as their own it tears the person a part. A friend of mine stopped writing for months when she discovered all her work had been plagiarized!
I have visited the sites of all four people that were plagiarized (yes, there were FOUR people) and I see the work they put into their blogs. For those who take what they do for a hobby seriously, like book blogging or fashion blogging or blogging in general, the words that are written aren't just words. They aren't just ideas. They are honest to goodness a part of the author. People make money off words, (books, fashion magazines) and when someone carelessly treats them as something to take you obviously have no respect for that person as someone with values and ideas that should be considered. In some sense, and if anyone thinks that I'm being too overly dramatic there's nothing I can do, it's very dehumanizing. Whether it was "meant to" or "an accident" or however you want to see it you are not giving that person value. If their words hold no importance aside from helping you out by stealing them then you might as well be saying that person isn't important.
Okay, so people can think I'm being overly dramatic, but I'm not. Unless you have a picture blog it's your words that you use to help make your blog what is. You are taking the time to express your view in words that have meaning to you and you want them to have meaning to your readers. And for some people, the same goes for those pictures as well. Someone takes the time to take them, edit them, create them, and put time, blood, sweat and tears into it. It holds just as much of that person as words do.
And like a crazy stalker I've also been following TSS week-long 'Let's Talk About Plagiarism' which is actually a very bad idea. Some authors have come out in supporting her, like Sarah Cross, but I'm not going back to my review on Kill Me Softly to call her out on it. This does not mean that I support this whatsoever, but this will most likely hinder me from ever reading another one of Sarah's books again.
For me, personally, I have stopped doing IMM, I've stopped following her blog, and I've stopped following her on Twitter. I come back now and then just to see what she's doing or if she's about to throw out a real apology, because as a blogging community I think we all agree that is what's missing from this whole thing: a real apology. No excuses, no explanations, just an I know what I did was wrong, I took your things without a thought and claimed them as my own and then I tried to hide it. I am sorry for hurting you and the other bloggers. See how simple that is? Honestly, that is the victims have wanted from day one. Instead this whole thing has been dragged out for far too long, generic apologizes have been made that aren't even real apologize in themselves, and even bullying. I mean, people come on! Kristi is not the victim here, you cannot just say, "This was a mistake" or "Nobody's perfect," I mean, seriously? Would you be saying that if it were you? If she went to your blog and stole your things, would you be saying, "Oh, no big deal," especially if she didn't apologize for it? I mean, there is no reason to harass the people who were the victims! These blogs were just doing their own thing when Kristi came along, and when they called her out, as they should have done, they suddenly became the Big Bad Wolves. Just put yourself in their shoes for a second.
And one last thing before I bow out. Plagiarism does not just hurt the person you stole from; in the long run it hurts you the most. Your reputation as a blogger and possibly as a person will come into question because they will see that you lack integrity. You might think, "Well, if I just take this quietly and reword it no one will notice," -pounds red buzzer- I don't think so. The internet is a huge place where people can find almost anything. It will be even easier to find you if you are within a community (a.k.a book bloggers, fashion bloggers, or just general blogging) People talk and they talk a lot to each other. A lot of plagiarist are caught not because the person who has been plagiarized took notice but because one of their loyal followers alerted them. In short: There is no hiding online! Once you take something to pass it off as your own and expect to get away with it, please make note that you will be caught eventually, and when that happens there is no saving your ass.
Just look what happened to Kristi. I don't want to talk bad about her character in general, but it seems to me that she's doing this as an "Oh, shit" last resort to save herself. She's lost a large amount of followers and when checking on her IMM posts you'll see that they went from over 700 links to less than 200. She sees how much trouble her blog is in and is trying to do some serious damage control. I don't know what this will do to her and her relationship with publishers, if it does anything, but at this rate, I doubt TSS will be up, running, and kicking within the next three years. People in this community will talk and when they look at her blog they will just see the "Plagiarist" label that now hangs on her blog.
Do not do that to yourself, especially if you have worked really hard to get your blog up and running. Honestly, as much as I love it, it's a lot of work, and it would suck to see all that work go down the drain for something as stupid as not formulating something on your own. One of the author's on TSS was wrong; not everyone walks the line of plagiarism (I haven't) but ideas, in some sense, are similar to that of someone else. It's how you use the idea and make it your own that sets you aside from every other person that thought the same thing.
Okay, I think I've said my piece. Please feel free to agree or disagree or tell me your concerns. This is my general take on this whole situation, from what just happened now to what had taken place back in April. I said what I needed to say and now I am done. And like Kristi should have done, I am leaving it alone!