And by The Recent Unpleasantness, I'm referring, of course, to the story that broke in the Smart Bitches' Plagiarism and The Story Siren post. (Well, 'broke' isn't totally accurate, as the it all went down back in January. But the Blogger In Question hadn't been named until yesterday, and so the story hadn't filtered out into the YA world.)
It's important for me—and I may have mentioned this before, but this is how I look at political stuff, too—to take a step back and try to look at any situation like this objectively. Like, I try to avoid taking a knee-jerk reaction and running with it. (And in a case like this, when it hits so close to home, it's not easy.) I think about my own personal response to the specific situation, and then I think about how I'd respond if (in this case) the accused had been a YA author, a blogger in a different realm, a print reviewer, a close friend. Is the accused's identity causing me to pull punches (or the opposite)? Would I highlight the same quotes, link to the same posts, etc., etc., if the accused had been one of those other hypothetical people? I have difficulty when I see people as inconsistent (especially in their outrage), and so I try my damnedest to avoid doing that myself.
Does any of that even make sense to you? (Is anyone actually even still reading? After that paragraph, I don't blame you if you aren't.)
Blerg. This is going to be distinctly unfun. So I'm just going to dive in.
- The aforementioned Smart Bitches' post, Plagiarism and The Story Siren. If you're only going to read one of these posts, read this one. They've also updated it a few times as The Story Siren has responded to the criticism.
- The posts that originally broke the story at the blogs that were plagiarized, Beautifully Invisible and Grit & Glamour. The explanations of the methods they used to figure out who'd lifted their content are both impressive and fascinating. (At least, they were to me.)
- The Story Siren responded with the post An Explanation and an Apology, and said: "While my actions were not deliberate, I don’t want to give you any excuses. In a way I feel as though it won’t matter what I say at this point. It seems that the verdict has been decided. I was accused of doing something that I am vehemently against, and intentionally or not, I know that there will be consequences." Comments were locked on this post.
- Later, she responded with another post, called Clarification, in which she was a bit more specific in responding to the complaints: "When I first received the allegations of plagiarism, I was presented with the information and could not deny the facts. While the content was not identical the subject matter was. It was a confusion of inspiration and plagiarism on my part. I am not denying my actions. I was in the wrong." Comments are (currently) open on this post, though a note at the bottom mentions that a third-party moderator is removing any comments that include 'personal insults'.
- ETA: Beautifully Invisible has posted a rebuttal to The Story Siren's Clarification: "Am I being harsh? Perhaps, but I think I have a right to be harsh in these circumstances. Apparently, Kristi is viewed as a role model by other YA bloggers out there which is something I was not aware of when we published our original posts in January. Knowing that, the fact that she is still making excuses is simply is NOT acceptable to me."
- ETA: Grit & Glamour has posted a rebuttal as well: "It would have been nice if instead of only doing your own reputation damage control, you had extended us the same courtesy and communicated to your followers that WE are not the ones at fault here, and we do not deserve to be attacked any more than you do."
- As Jane_L pointed out on Twitter, it's worth reading The Story Siren's (now-deleted) post about plagiarism, available via The Wayback Machine, in which she says (among other things, of course): "Plagiarism is wrong. No matter how you look at it. There is no excuse... “I didn’t know.... I didn’t mean to... I did it subconsciously.” No, you didn’t. You did know and you did mean to."
That's it for the primary sources. Now for the reactions. There are a lot of them out there—I haven't even touched Twitter, for instance, and there are approximately eight billion (<--translation: almost one thousand) comments on the ONTD post and there's a long conversation at the AWWC—and they range from measured to defensive to angry to abusive to apathetic. Here are a few:
- Ten Cent Notes: "I'm definitely not advocating any sort of bullying or "mob mentality," but ignoring the issue, thinking that it's okay because it's been resolved between Kristi and the fashion bloggers, is wrong on a couple of different levels. It's a sort of quiet compliance with content-stealing. We're saying it's okay for one of the most respected creative blogs out there to be, at least partially, built on posts that were stolen from others."
- Read. Breathe. Relax.: "I don’t think Kristi intentionally lifted those bloggers content…I think she got lazy or uninspired and did something she should have thought more about." [ETA: This post was written before the second apology.]
- Stacked: "If you've wondered why YA blogging can sometimes get the reputation it does, why people believe there is even a reputation, this may be all you need to know. When a valid and important topic worth having a dialog about emerges, so often it devolves, turning into mud-slinging, rather than discussion. Drama, rather than discourse."
- A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy: "Plagiarism matters; it’s significant. But, on the other hand, I’m also bothered by the reactions Stacked refers to. People were waiting for Kristi to to respond; now she has. (People wondered why she didn’t respond sooner. As someone who, like Kristi, works full time and blogs after work, I can imagine that at work she cannot drop everything and blog or tweet. She needed a bit of time.)"
- The Book Lantern: "I have a serious question to ask those who continually defended Diehm’s actions last night. Actually, I have a few, one of which being, do you seriously think calling a plagiarist a plagiarist is in any way comparable to a lynch mob? Grow up. Diehm 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?"
- ETA: This post from Gossamer Obsessions is a must-read: "Plagiarism isn't something that "could happen to anyone." It's not like farting in an elevator, where if you don't clench hard enough or you sneeze, you end up accidentally blowing stolen content onto your blog posts. Plagiarism requires intent and agency. Nothing happens to a plagiarist. In the act of plagiarism, they are not the ones acted upon. They are making an active decision."
Me? Plagiarism = bad. Full stop. But at this point, I really don't think anyone is really even discussing plagiarism anymore. Not that, really, there's a whole lot to discuss, what with that whole Bad Full Stop thing.
Now, the community's reaction to this instance of plagiarism? That's another story.