Before I begin my thoughts on this situation, I want to make the following very clear. I do not know Kristi Diehm, a.k.a. The Story Siren. I was a reader of her blog, I followed her on Twitter, I was a participant in the Debut Author Challenge that she hosts, and a participant in the In My Mailbox meme that she hosts. Anything I say within this post is not a judgment upon Kristi as a person. These are my thoughts on the situation at hand and how I am responding to that situation.
Back story: I am not going to rehash the details of this situation. You are probably well aware of what has happened. I am going to provide the following links to information that you can read on your own, in the event that you are not familiar with this situation.
- The Story Siren Issues An Explanation and An Apology
- The Story Siren Issues a Clarification on Her Apology
- Smart Bitches Breaks Down The Plagiarism and The Story Siren Issue
- Beautifully Invisible and the Evidence for The Story Siren Having Plagiarized Their Site
- Grit and Glamour Talks About Being Plagiarized by The Story Siren
- Parajunkee Posts About How to Boycott a Site
This previous Monday evening, I was reading my Facebook feed on my phone when I saw a blog post come through from The Story Siren. The post was her initial apology. I read the apology, which was very vague and I had no clue as to what was being discussed. I hopped onto Twitter and didn’t immediately see any chatter about The Story Siren or what she was apologizing for exactly. I sent a tweet to a blogger I trust, asking if she knew what the apology was referencing. She sent me a link to Beautifully Invisible or Smart Bitches, I cannot honestly remember which. From there, I finally was able to get the story behind the initial apology. Kristi, The Story Siren, had been accused of plagiarism.
To say that I was confused and stunned would be massive understatements. I was confused by how vague Kristi’s apology was and stunned by the accusation. Kristi is a prominent book blogger. A book blogger who has taken an adamant stance against plagiarism and had written blog posts on what it was and how to avoid it (those posts have since been removed). I read the posts on Beautifully Invisible, Grit and Glamour, and Smart Bitches recap of the whole situation. I was completely and totally floored.
Over the course of the week, Kristi issued a secondary apology, the plagiarized parties posted more information, and an all out war erupted on Twitter between people who were angry with Kristi’s actions, and those who were/are defending her. My initial reaction was to say very little. It took me awhile to process the situation and what precisely I was feeling. Then, I just wanted to avoid the drama and the hateful messages that were flying around. I decided I would say nothing. What could I say that hasn’t already been said, anyway?
But the more time I spent thinking about the situation, the more I felt compelled to speak out. I am a person who stands up for what I believe in and stands against the things I find objectionable. After Rachel of Parajunkee.com blogged about boycotting and offered some of her thoughts, it was really then that I decided I would post about this situation, it just took me a few days to organize my thoughts on the matter.
So what do I have to say? I don’t discuss my personal life on this blog. That’s not what this blog is about. This is a book review and author news site, end of story. So what you might not know about me is that I am a professional writer, in addition to being a book blogger. I am not an author, to be clear. I write instructional manuals and guides for software. Because of my profession, plagiarism is a huge issue for me. Perhaps, it would be just as huge if I didn’t write for a living, but I do and it is. The idea of stealing someone else’s words, work, thoughts, is deplorable to me. I know how much effort goes into the things I write professionally and how much time I put into this blog. No one has a right to steal what I create. As far as I know, I’ve never been plagiarized. The closest thing to it that ever happened to me was a girl in high school stole a test I had taken, that she had not taken, and used my test to cheat. But that’s a little different.
My overarching thoughts on this situation are the following:
- I believe, based on the evidence that Beautifully Invisible and Grit and Glamour provided that Kristi did plagiarize them. Even if you dismiss the IP address information, the content was clearly lifted from their site, in my estimation.
- I do not believe, in general, in accidental plagiarism. Plagiarism is a deliberate act.
- I feel that Kristi’s actions reflect extremely poorly on book bloggers as a whole. There’s that old saying that one bad apple spoils the bunch. Maybe the “bunch” hasn’t been entirely spoiled, but each book blogger now carries a little bit of a taint because of Kristi’s actions. Book bloggers are not respected by many people. We are seen as irrelevant and as people who are only in it for the free books. 99% of the books I review I bought and paid for myself or I checked them out of the library. I am a member of Amazon’s Vine program, I am approached by publishers to review books, and I do participate in book tours. Those free opportunities for books represent an extremely small part of my reviews, though. I am not in this for anything free and I have always resented the implication. Now, I feel tainted by Kristi’s actions and I resent that I may be thought of poorly because of something she did. That makes me very angry. I care about my reputation and I shouldn’t have to carry the stain of someone else’s wrong doing.
- What is the responsibility here to the publishers and authors that Kristi hosts on her blog and does receive free items from? Should they be told? Since they are using her site as a promotional vehicle, don’t they have a right to know the possible stigma that is now attached to her and her site? And whose responsibility is it to inform them if they should know? Who enforces it? I don’t know what the answers to these questions are, but they have definitely been rolling around in my head.
With all of that said, where do I personally go from here? I am deeply and truly saddened by this situation, and again, my opinions and actions are based entirely on this situation and not on Kristi as a person.
I am enforcing a full boycott of The Story Siren and her website, effective immediately. What does that mean?
- I have removed her blog from my RSS feed reader
- I will no longer visit her site
- I am no longer participating in the Debut Author Challenge that she hosts. I have removed all references to the challenge from my blog and have emailed Kristi to have her remove my name and site from the list of participating blogs
- I have unliked The Story Siren Facebook page
- I have unfollowed The Story Siren on Twitter
- I am no longer participating in the In My Mailbox meme hosted by Kristi
Is this what you should do? I have no idea. Only you can answer that question. This is what I have to do because I am 100% against her actions and will not lend my support, in any fashion, to a plagiarist. Hopefully, we can all recover from this situation and I hope that the book bloggers that are present at BEA are not adversely affected by this situation.