Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Salon: On popularity and the pack mentality

This is not actually the post that I thought I would be writing today. I had something else planned entirely. It is also not a post that I feel completely comfortable with for a number of reasons. Normally, I stay well away from online Drama (yes, with a capital D) because a lot of the time it is a bit of a storm in a teacup but also because I am pretty much completely non-confrontational. If you want me to fight, you generally will have to get right under my skin, because I am much more likely to internalise my emotions and stew than I am to have a screaming match with someone.

This week was a week that I was not proud to be a book blogger. In fact, there were times that I was absolutely horrified. The thing was though, I wasn't as horrified by the initial events as I was by what happened afterwards.

I don't actually want to talk too much on the plagiarism issue because it is pretty cut and dried for me. If you plagiarise, you may well get caught (link provides overview of everything that went down this week), and when you do the wisest course of action would be to acknowledge that fact and not give half-assed double-speak apologies. I think it is telling that I saw several commenters on Twitter who had read the apologies and yet had no clue what the apologies were for.

The thing that had me feeling sick though was the pack mentality that started not long afterwards. In a way, I would have understood if there was a backlash against the plagiarist, and there was a little bit of that (including a Twitter hashtag that I was uncomfortable with but I appreciate that other people are much more comfortable with being confrontational than I am), but it was really the way that The Story Siren's followers turned against the bloggers who were plagiarised as well as anyone who dared to suggest that she had done anything wrong that I struggled to understand.

Some of the suggestions that were made were astonishing in a bad way. The idea that the two fashion bloggers, Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour (and it appears a couple of others as well) should have been grateful that she had copied from them, that they were jealous of her success, that the posts concerned were blogging tips posts and therefore can't have been that original in the first place, or that they had some kind of agenda to ruin her reputation just had me shaking my head in disbelief. Another comment I saw on Twitter was along the lines of "but she still writes good reviews" - completely irrelevant in my opinion.

At one point, I was chatting with Holly from The Book Binge on Twitter and saying that I couldn't remember anything like this behaviour in all my years of blogging. Sure, there has been plagiarism before and those people were called out publicly, but this vilification of the victims is a first for me.

I never have figured out what it takes to be Miss Popular in the blogging stakes. I sit here in my little corner of the world, usually content to carry on my merry way although if I was being honest with myself there are times when I wonder what it is that stops me from being more popular. Would I be better off being more focused on just one genre rather than posting on everything that I read? Am I too boring? Too safe? Too...whatever.

But here's the thing. I hate to think that if I did something that was blatantly wrong, and deserved public censure, that my followers would turn on the people who did nothing wrong. What we saw this week was nothing short of pack mentality. The leader of the pack was threatened and all the rest of the pack fell into place to protect her.

At the end of the day, the only person who can decide how to react to the whole plagiarism issue and what it means for the future of her blog is The Story Siren herself, and then I guess that each individual who reads her blog has to decide if plagiarism is a big enough issue to stop them from following her. It is not up to me or any other blogger to decide that for others. I didn't follow her and certainly won't start to any time soon. I do think that a blog break for a short time might have been appropriate especially seeing as only a couple of days later whilst conversation and debate continues unabated the only posts on The Story Siren that dealt with this issue have scrolled off into the archives never to be seen again.

Here's hoping that next week it will be a better week for book bloggers. I suspect it will take a while for the damage that has been caused in the community to be repaired.


For other commentary on this behaviour, you can visit the following links:

The Story Siren is a Plagiarist, Not a Victim at The Book Binge
Plagiarism Bingo: O - Hatemail at Smart Bitches
So Your Favourite Blogger's a Plagiarist at Gossamer Obsessions

and I am sure that there is plenty more that you could find without too much effort.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




In a change of pace now, here are my reads....

Currently Reading

The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani, The Novel in the Viola by Natasha Solomons, Legacy by Susan Kay and Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Up Next

The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin


53 comments:

  1. It was bullying, most of it, pure and simple. The internet has become a GREAT tool for bullying unfortunately, because people can get on and say what they like and don't have to actually have the balls to say it to someone's face. I don't know the blogger involved in the plagiarism and I don't read her blog. Popularity? Not an excuse for what she did or a reason to say it's ok and that people should just all forget about it. The poor apology? Not cool. But the fact that her supporters went out and actually attacked the blogs that had been plagiarised was terrible.

    It makes me feel like I'm back in high school. And I left that behind a long time ago.

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    1. It definitely had a juvenile feeling to it. You would hope that didn't reflect the audience, but yes, high school at lunch time did come to mind!

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  2. Stealing is naughty. End of ;)

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    1. You would think that would be the end of it, wouldn't it, but apparently it isn't in this case.

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  3. Wow, I knew nothing about this. Guess I've been a bit absent the past few weeks. It sounds horrible all round. But plagiarism is indeed stealing, no excuses.

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    1. I happened to be home on Tuesday and Wednesday and so I therefore saw it all unfolding during the days.

      Delete
  4. My post is on the same topic, but like you, I am not going to enter into the drama. Nice post.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I suspect that there may be a few posts this week on or around this topic!

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  5. Oh dear. Just catching up with all of this :S Just read your post and The Book Smugglers' and you both pretty much said it all.

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    1. You picked a good week to be absent from the net and therefore miss out on all the drama!

      Delete
  6. I just can't believe the way that some of her followers bullied the victims. I just don't get it. I never got what made her so popular in the first place and I certainly don't understand such a rabid fanbase. Disgusting.

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    1. Not the best moments for book bloggers as a whole Belle

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  7. I wasn't aware of this, I don't have much time for blog browsing anymore... But I couldn't agree more with what you wrote!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ana, in some ways you are really missing out by not being able to spend time blog hopping (but there is a great reason for that). In other ways though, you get to miss out on all this BS which isn't a bad thing!

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  8. Marg, I like our little corner of the book world without the Drama. I read some of the stuff this week, and it's just crazy. I find it interesting though, that in my whole google reader, only one person linked to the brouhaha, or even mentioned it. Your post today is the 2nd one in my GR. I'm not on Twitter though, so I missed all that drama.

    Nice thoughtful post, thanks Marg.

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    1. Twitter does provide an immediacy to help fuel this kind of thing.

      Delete
  9. I had read the post at SB's, but not being on Twitter I thinkfully missed all the drama. Thanks for this post though, that kind of behavior is unacceptable. Period.

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    Replies
    1. I do really enjoy Twitter most of the time, but when something happens it does explode!

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  10. I was clueless about the drama. Plagiarism is stupid, and the other bloggers rushing to defend her is silly - yes, it sounds like high school, doesn't it? I'll go read a bit about it to see what ideas they are bringing up, but normally I stay away from this. I'm not a terrifically popular blogger, and while I admire very much those who are, I also know that I can't write the way they do. I'm glad people read my blog, and that they enjoy what I say, and that's what blogging is about, sharing what we read and think.

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    1. Susan, as I said, normally I stay away from all this stuff too, but it just annoyed me so much this week that I couldn't

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  11. I'm definitely intrigued by the issues. The drama is definitely not something I enjoy or like to participate in, but plagiarism is definitely a no-no; and owning up to it is obviously not something the blogger in question could do easily.

    Thanks for the links and your thoughts.

    Here's MY SUNDAY SALON POST

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    1. To me, the taking ownership thing is key because the followers would have had less reason to attack the victims the way they didn.

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  12. The Drama would have been with a lowercase d if Kristi had issued a sincere apology and made it clear that she screwed up intentionally and that she was in the wrong. But she didn't, which I think caused a lot of confusion amongst some of her followers, and brought out some truly nasty comments and emails towards anyone they thought was tormenting Kristi with... the truth? And to through out the bullying card, which is something I would hasten to say our blogging community on the whole is AGAINST, was shameful. As is the hate mail directed at the actual victims of the crime.

    Thank you for your awesome post, you said a lot of things that needed to be said.

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    1. Kate, I agree totally.

      Thanks for your comment.

      Delete
  13. I just found out about this whole thing last night (how out of the loop am I?). I completely agree with you that it seems like the pack mentality. I would think that the responsible response from The Story Siren would have been to admit guilt on her part, and also to tell those who were attacking the people she plagiarized from to knock it off.

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    1. Yes, Alyce, whilst The Story Siren didn't go after the bloggers who she plagiarised from, she still has a strong voice at this point in time and she should have used it to put a stop to the attacks.

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  14. You would think this would be a no-brainer for people who write--plagarism is wrong, you don't do it, and you don't defend people who take something that someone else has written and call it their own. Its theft, pure and simple, and while everyone makes mistakes, it is not a defensible act. Scary that there are so many people out there who were obviously sleeping through English 101.

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    1. Beth, you would think it would be a no-brainer wouldn't it, but apparently not!

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  15. I happened on Twitter to see something about this and I read The post on The Story Siren. I had no idea what was going on. It took a conversation with you, a couple other chance appearances on Twitter, and a podcast before I completely understood what the heck was going on. Really, I should have understood right from The Story Sirens post... And, yes, I am very disgruntled about the 'pack' mentality, too. And, I kinda thought the Twitter hashtag was a bit of an overkill.

    I'm with you, though. I don't remember anything like this happening before.

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    1. Kelly, if you read two apologies and you still can't tell what the apology is for then there is something wrong!

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  16. This is the first I've heard of this kerfuffle. After reading some of the links you shared, I was surprised at how many aren't quite sure what plagiarism includes. Here's a link to a true/false "plagiarism quiz" I used with my college writing class.

    http://students.slis.wayne.edu/policies/plagiarism-quiz.php

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    1. There does seem to be some confusion on some parts. The irony was that The Story Siren had a post up about plagiarism where she said that some of the behaviour that she has since said she indulged in were not acceptable. That post has since been removed.

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  17. I was completely oblivious to this until yesterday, and after reading posts and catching up, I've decided that I'm glad I am in my own little corner of the blogging community and can avoid most of this type of drama.

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    1. Carrie, sometimes ignorance of what is going on is actually bliss!

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  18. I love how you describe blogging drama as a "storm in a teacup". I agree. I'm getting really sick of all the drama that's going on. I don't remember any drama at all even two years ago. I'm also getting really tired of people being doing something wrong and not apologizing for it. When did that become the standard thing to do? Instead of owning up to their mistakes, they dance around it. I haven't followed The Story Siren around in years and won't do it anytime soon. I hope publishers are aware of all the crap going on with her and her followers.

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    1. Vasilly, I think that drama of some kind or another do come up with alarming regularity, but this seemed to be much, much bigger and much more vicious.

      You do hope that the publishers do know what is going on. You have to wonder if that will make any difference to the way that they use her blog.

      Delete
  19. Like a couple of the commenters above me your post is the first I heard of this issue which shows how cluelessly out of the loop I am as a book bloger. But I can live with that. I only had time to read a couple of the links you shared so I won't comment on the specifics of this issue as I don't feel I know all the ins and outs.

    What I will say is I'm not terribly surprised by someone doing the wrong thing and trying to weasel out of it with half-arsed apologies and nonsense words that mean nothing. There's a lot of good role models for that behaviour in our public life these days - I spend most Sunday mornings watching political news shows from here and overseas and all I seem to see are politicians pretending that whatever they've been accused of isn't as bad as we think making so-called apologies that never include words like sorry, wrong and so on. Or for a non-political example how about the Murdoch press scandal in England? People who should know better (who do in fact know better) doing the wrong thing and then having to be dragged kicking and screaming to be accountable for their actions.

    Sadly it seems to be the way of the world these days and, in some ways, I can't blame the woman who plagiarised and then spectacularly failed to admit her wrongdoing - if it's ok for Presidents, Prime Ministers and the heads of multinatiional corporations to engage in such behaviour then surely it's OK for a lowly book blogger?

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    1. You make a good point Bernadette. We see it all the time, even in cases where people sue others for something that would seem to be their own fault...and win. It seems that taking personal responsibility for your own actions is becoming less and less normal.

      Delete
  20. *Nodding my head* All I'll say is yes, pack mentality. It has been appalling.

    Enjoy your reading week!

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    1. Yep, appalling indeed!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  21. This drama is why I avoid the exclusively YA blogosphere, it's like being back in high school again, and while drama like this is not confined to the YA community it is often the epicenter of it. That being said I have silently followed the Story Siren blog for quite some time and was aware of it all when it broke. I do find myself disappointed in her, both because of her actions and her lack of personal responsibility. I am even more disappointed in the bullying and vitrolic that followed when the 'story' broke.
    I think I am quite happy wallowing in my own corner of the internet out of the way of the drama

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    1. I'll just sit in the corner with you Shelleyrae!

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    2. I think you are right Shelleyrae, the YA blogosphere is a little cliquey and all the backlash and bullying that erupted over the past week is very adolescent and a shame really that the anonymity of the internet has facilitated this.

      Great post Marg, you've created a fruitful discussion! I am still deciding whether to continue with The Story Siren's IMM meme or to link in with a non-YA specific meme as an alternative...

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    3. Jayne, another option might be Mailbox Monday which you can learn about here

      Delete
  22. I mentioned this a little in a post I did yesterday. The whole thing is pretty shocking and embarrassing. I do think that both sides reacted badly. I have no problem with calling her out and making people aware of what she did. I do have a problem with the personal attacks that followed (on both sides). They were abhorrent and, in my opinion, crossed a line. But then again, I'm non-confrontational too.

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    1. Kristi, thanks for stopping by.

      There are some people who thrive on drama. I am not one of those people

      Delete
  23. I totally feel you on being embarrassed for being a book blogger this week. What happened and how it was handled makes all of us look very bad. I believe that for the sake of our readers, we as book bloggers, have an inherent responsibility to keep each other honest.

    I would much rather have integrity rather than being popular. And you, my dear, have integrity. I definitely trust your blog even I don't comment as much as I should.

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    1. Thanks Meg for your kind words.

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  24. Thanks for keeping me in the loop. I'd like to say that I'm surprised, but I'm not. The plagiarizer should have just come clean at the beginning and this would have been the end. As for her fans...well everyone is big and behind behind their screen. I think it's all a shame.

    I can only assume the Book Siren does this for a living or something and that's why she wouldn't come clean. Don't like it, doesn't excuse it, but I like to know all sides of a story. Why would you plagiarize in the first place?

    Anyway, the bully mentality online is getting ridiculous and and I think that reflects society's behavior as a whole. That goes for for the plagiarism too.

    Thanks for bringing this to my my attention since I am obviously in the clouds as of late :)

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    1. I would suggest that The Story Siren is making money give the amount of sponsors and ads on her site.

      It is a sad indictment on both blogging and community as a whole if this is where we are going in the future.

      Delete
  25. I read all about this on Friday and was appalled. It was all done in such shockingly bad taste. I avoid drama at all costs. It upsets me, and since reading and blogging brings joy into my life, I prefer to stay out of this type of stuff. But there is no question that it was totally and utterly wrong.

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    1. I definitely prefer to stay out of it too Zibilee, but sometimes I just have to actually say something. Not often though.

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  26. Whoa. I hadn't read anything about this. Plagarism is not cool. But neither is snarky internet bullying.
    I agree with you, I prefer to be in the background but I'm not sure if it was handled in the best way. While I enjoy blogging, this is not the sort of thing that the majority of bloggers would want to be tainted with.

    ReplyDelete

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