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....
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
The King's Agent by Donna Russo Morin