Plagiarism in the YA Community: My Own Experience

January 27, 2013 2013, blogger perspectives, Wendy 168

Plagiarism continues to plague the YA community. At least four bloggers reported last week that their reviews were copied, and there are doubtless many more undiscovered.

What’s the big deal when blogs aren’t technically “professional” publications? For one thing, in a crowded community that is saturated with blogs, individual voice and identity are increasingly important factors in maintaining an audience.

Plagiarism is not a victimless crime. Based on their dishonestly earned followers, plagiarists receive:

– ARCs that should have gone to someone else
– Tour spots that should have gone to someone else
– Votes/comments/praise that belong to someone else.
– Reviewer rankings (GoodReads, Amazon, etc.) that belong to someone else.

They’ve also duped friends, followers, publishers, and authors, all of whom have interacted with them on the implied faith that they’re dealing with someone who has earned their respect and trust.

People who steal content may believe that they’re not hurting anyone by lifting material. But consider these possible ramifications.

If someone mistakenly thinks the original writer is the plagiarist:

– An innocent party’s reputation may suffer.
– He/she might lose followers.
– Access to publisher galleys are at risk.
– Advertiser revenue could be affected.

Not to mention that someone else spent hours reading a book, writing and formatting a review, and promoting it online, only to have his or her work taken without permission.

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My Own Experience with Plagiarism

Since I’ve been active on GoodReads and started YA blogging, I’ve seen many, many instances where people have adopted things that echoed my own style, including language, review structure, blog elements and descriptions, etc. I usually look the other way, knowing that there’s a certain amount of ambient influence that is unavoidable.

But about a year ago, someone submitted two items to me that had disquieting echoes of material I had seen on this blog. I gently mentioned this to the person in passing, without any response. This triggered alarms, because it just isn’t natural for a topic like that to go unacknowledged. I then spent hours going through her GoodReads reviews, where I found to my dismay that there were numerous examples of reviews that were much too similar to my own–and I recognized bits and pieces of phrases and styles from other reviewers, too. I immediately wrote to this person and dissolved a particular partnership with her, though I made a concentrated effort to be very polite and kind. I told her I would keep it private between us, I was fine with remaining GR friends (honestly, I also wanted to keep an eye out on her work), and that I had no hard feelings over it.

The letter I got in return was defiant. Though she denied culpability, she made no attempt to defend herself, saying it was no use since I’d already made up my mind anyway. (She also said “she wasn’t writing in anger.” Wow, thanks.) Looking back, this is where I made my mistake: I assumed that appealing to her conscience would make her stop. This was a smart, seemingly empathetic person whom I’d invited into my inner online circle, after all. How could she take more risks when she’d already been caught?

Within weeks after I sent the letter, she started her own blog and continued to post reviews to GoodReads as well. Several months passed, but it was a time when I didn’t have the energy to pay too much attention to something like this. Last year was extremely difficult, both reviewing-wise and personally, so thinking about someone I knew engaging in this behavior was the last thing I wanted to do. Complicating matters was the fact that we had many mutual friends, none of whom seemed to notice anything unusual.

After I started easing back into the blogosphere last fall, I eventually started paying attention to what she was doing again. It will come as no surprise that I found even more blatant examples of material that had been ripped off from my own work. Here are just a few examples (right click to enlarge):

As you can see, the reviews aren’t cut and paste in their entirety, but instead lift or paraphrase major structure, style, and language choices that are pretty obvious. I emailed comparison links to a few trusted friends, who all unanimously agreed that that degree of overlap could not be a mistake. This could have only happened if someone had my review open on her desktop and painstakingly gone through it line by line to model her writing after mine.

Here was my dilemma: I am a mama bear when it comes to sticking up for other people, but I loathe confrontation on my own behalf. I hate having to engage in negative interactions, even when I know it’s necessary. So I watched from the sidelines as this person continued to post more reviews, I watched as she racked up more followers and votes, and I fumed. But post-holidays, I’d finally enough. It seemed to me that she’d gotten pretty cocky–and between another friend of mine having material from one of her reviews lifted by this person and a blatant ripoff of a fairly specific blog feature I’d recently done, I decided I just wasn’t going to put up with it any longer. So I confronted her again with the following letter:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Since you are apparently a minor, you may pass this onto your parents and have them contact me if they need to speak on your behalf.

I’ve been ignoring this for awhile now in the hopes that your conscience would get the better of your ambition. But since I continue to see echoes in your reviews of my own, as well as other bloggers’, I am writing to you again to say that this needs to stop.

What you are doing is plagiarism. You may believe that because you haven’t plagiarized entire reviews that you are safe, but paraphrasing ideas, lifting turns of phrase, etc. also fall under that category. Attracting an audience in the blogosphere relies heavily upon having a unique voice, original thought, and memorable style, and I would argue that your type of clever copying is among the most insidious and damaging. It is lazy and wrong to profit off someone else’s hard work and original voice.

Here are just a few examples that I found: (links redacted)

While there is a certain amount of “inspiration” that you might be able to excuse, the specificity and repetition of these occurrences, most particularly the structure and language included in the reviews, are beyond any sort of unconscious influence. The similarities between your work and mine cannot be a mistake. And all this is on top of many other things you’ve adopted that are very similar to my own (or to other reviewers): profile descriptions, friend request policies and welcomes, shelving, blog design, interaction on reviews, uncredited meme inspirations, etc, etc. Bloggers need to find their own voice and their own style when they review–otherwise they have no business doing it.

I was lenient with you when I first suspected what you were up to last year, because I hoped that in showing you kindness, you would stop to rethink your behavior. It was a mistake to rely upon your moral compass, and I deeply regret that this has likely happened to many other reviewers as well.

Going forward: you need to stop copying other people’s work. If this behavior continues unchecked, I will not hesitate to take further action.

I expect to hear back from you asap.

Within hours, I received a response. A few lines from her strangely rambling, largely incoherent email:

Yes, I admit to stealing phrases, words and sometimes paraphrasing it to make it my own, but to suggest that I do so because I am lazy or because I have no moral compass in my reviewing is wrong and condescending.

I wouldn’t be dedicating hours upon hours copying snippets of reviews to combine one of my own just to get free ARCs and books…because that’s not the type of person I am. 

I’m not asking you to forgive me, but do know that I am deeply sorry for unintentionally hurting you. However, I am not yet sorry for what I’ve done since I haven’t fully comprehended my wrongdoings and the consequences.  

This letter infuriated me–it is a non-apology at its finest. To make excuses, to play the victim, to try to say “yes, I plagiarized, but it wasn’t why you thought I did!” and to deny responsibility at this point seemed utterly pointless and far beneath any thinking person. I shot back this response (excerpts) later that day, which is far more scathing than anything I’d previously sent:

It doesn’t matter why you did it. The fact is, you did.

The smokescreens you are throwing up in complaining about what I’ve written to you will not hold any water. Your age is not an excuse. Lack of experience is not an excuse. Because certainly from the last communication we had, at least, you knew better, you were called out on it, you were shown mercy, and you continued to do it anyway.

Your boasts about your “high amount of votes,” etc–do you owe none of that to the styles you’ve copied? The words you’ve paraphrased? The ideas you’ve borrowed without credit?

I told you from the very beginning that…I thought you did have something original to say and I liked the voice that I heard in your reviews. But because you’ve purloined and “borrowed” from so many, I no longer have any assurance that what I was drawn to in the beginning was ever truly yours to begin with.

Unless you leave me no choice by continuing to creatively copy other people’s work, I have no interest in publicly naming you, as that has never been and will never be my style. But this is a serious offense with a great impact upon the reviewing community, and something that I have no doubt has affected other people directly and indirectly. It’s a topic of discussion that is bigger than you, as it seems many other people also feel no compunction in piggybacking on the work of others. I find it fascinating that you think anyone should be concerned about protecting your integrity when you have so little regard for your own or for others.

Don’t think that there won’t be eyes on what you’re doing, whether you continue with your own blog or pop up with a new identity.

Every single review that you’ve “borrowed” from me needs to be deleted from GoodReads and from your blog. Make no mistake–not edited so the content is changed, but DELETED. Every vote and page view and comment you received on those was dishonestly earned. I would suggest you do the same with any other reviews you’ve “borrowed” from other people as well.

During this time and over the next couple of days, I was pretty vocal about this on Twitter since I knew she was checking my feed. As I continued investigating her blog, I reported back on everything she was doing to save her skin–removing only a couple of reviews, but editing the body of others so she kept all her comments and votes; leaving the ones on the blog; leaving the ones I didn’t specifically point out to her, since I wanted to see if she’d do that voluntarily of her own accord. She then took her blog private–something a lot of plagiarists seem to do. Then she made it subscription-only. But finally, after I grew steadily angrier, both her GoodReads profiles and blog were deleted. And finally, I could breathe a sigh of relief. It made me unhappy to have to take that tone or those tactics with anyone, but it was clear nothing else would have been effective.

I was surprised when this letter came through a few hours later. Here it is in its entirety:

January 24, 2013

I have permanetly deleted my blog, my twitter account, my Facebook page, my Google profile page, and my Goodreads account. 

 I understand why you wouldn’t believe me, as you have every reason not to: but I have no “stock” accounts, and don’t plan on making one. Ever. I’m withdrawing from the blogsphere and Goodreads completely, and forever.
 
You have every right to publicly call me out of course, but I can’t write a public apology in return. I’m too much of coward. 
 
I don’t expect you to believe me or anything, hell, I have no doubt that you will be deleting this message promptly after receiving it, but I am so, so sorry. For everything. For making you upset, for angering you, for frauding, for damaging other hard-working reviewers, for making you devote time away from books and your blog. For copying, for stealing, for wronging you. I know that’s really nothing to offer, and again, feel free to dismiss this as bullsh*t and say I have no moral compass to all your friends. But this is the truth, and I get it if you feel like or are planning to publicly outing me right now, believe me. I deserve it. 
 
Although, I’m strangely thankful. Your letter really made me realize how little honor I have, so much so that, as you said, about people plaigarizing having no right to write reviews. That really hit home, because it’s true. I have no right to be writing on the internet until I start writing original work that hasn’t been copied, or plaigarized, by anyone.
 
So, go ahead and make what you will of this. Accept it. Hate it. Dismiss it. It’s all the truth, but one that I know will never be enough for what I’ve done. You’ll never be seeing me again on the internet from this day forth. I’ve simply lost all my desire to write, and much of my self-worth is gone, too. I think you think I’m a bad person, which I guess may be true, but I really do hope, for all my flaws and bad qualities, I can improve and gain some integrity, and maybe, just maybe, atone for the awful thing that I’ve done.

 

That was a real apology. And those were the actions of someone who understood the magnitude of her actions. I wrote this response hours later:

Thank you for your email. If you had sent me this note and taken these steps three days ago, I would never have become as angry as I did. In fact, while I was disappointed in your actions last year and the last few months have been extremely frustrating, it wasn’t until I got your initial response that my temper really flared. I appreciate your apology, and I can tell that it comes from the heart.

I hope that you will tread carefully in the future, however, because you could get yourself into a great deal of trouble and embarrassment if this sort of thing happens again. Someone else, in my place, would not have been nearly as patient or as kind.

Copying someone else’s work is a serious issue, whether it is in its entirety or merely taking bits and pieces from different sources. I hope that you will spend some time thinking about how you put yourself in this position to begin with, and to look upon this as an important learning experience. You should be aware that I will be writing a blog post about plagiarism in general, and sharing some of what’s happened. I don’t intend to name names, and it is not my style to write something in a vicious or demeaning manner. This is, however, a serious problem that is plaguing the reviewing community, and I believe it is a problem that thrives in secrecy. I am sincerely glad, however, that I can write it from the perspective of the situation being resolved with as much civility as possible.

I would like to believe that there was something real in what drew me to your reviews in the first place. Reading your note fills me with some regret, because there is a genuinely articulate voice in there that doesn’t need to rely upon the words of other people to get by. I hope that in the future, you won’t allow yourself to be swayed by a desire for approval or friendship, by the thrill of numbers and rankings, or by the want of free books. I understand that those things feel great–who doesn’t want an audience for her work? who wouldn’t want a great circle of friends? who wouldn’t want to receive books to read?–but those things should not pressure you into compromising your principles or anyone else’s. I have a decently sized audience for my own reviews, but numbers and rankings have never been something I put much stock in. I’ve never pursued friendships or asked anyone to join the blog because of that–it is the heart and soul of a reviewer, of a person, that matters to me. I hope you do a tremendous amount of soul-searching and find your way back to a place of honesty and sincerity one day.

I genuinely wish you no ill will, particularly after your note. And I believe that doing something bad doesn’t necessarily make an individual a bad person. What’s important is what you take away from this experience, and how you choose to conduct yourself going forward. I hope you’ll always try your best to maintain your integrity, and to treat others with the respect that you would want to be extended.

And that’s the end of that particular story. Because I was plagiarized, I spent countless hours gathering data, thinking about, and discussing something I should never had had to address with to begin with. Time better spent reading, reviewing, or any number of more pleasant things. I am very lucky that this situation ended with a minimum of fuss, and that I had wonderful friends who counseled me and supported me throughout it. And I am tremendously grateful that this sorry affair ended as happily as possible.

But I worry about new bloggers, or bloggers without a support network. I worry that this seems to be occurring over and over again and that so many reviewers are affected. I worry that so many plagiarists reap the benefit of their spoils without consequence.

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Stop Supporting Plagiarists

How can we stop the plague of plagiarism? It’s a problem that is hard to eradicate and yet I think there are some things that we can do to mitigate it–or at least, to stop contributing to an atmosphere where it can thrive. I would suggest:

  • Stop following blogs, Twitter feeds, FB pages, etc. of proven, unrepentant plagiarists
  • Stop blaming the victims.
    If you notice a disquieting similarity to something you’ve seen before–keep an eye on it. If you see a pattern of behavior, alert the original source.
    Educate yourself about what plagiarism entails. It is not just copying entire texts, but also covers paraphrasing, poaching from multiple sources, etc.
  • Stay informed. People should always make up their own minds about the facts they are presented with, but willfully turning a blind eye contributes to this problem. Loyalty is a commendable and admittedly complicated thing, but just remember that you may also lose readers who question your association with proven plagiarists. And it’s easy enough to look the other way–until it happens to you or someone you know.

I strongly believe we as a community need to look out for each other and stand up for what’s right. This behavior thrives in secrecy and feeds on approval–so let’s stop giving it that satisfaction.

A Word of Caution

I will say that I think we always need to be careful in not rushing to immediate judgment, to do our research carefully, and to not subscribe to mob mentality. Wherever possible, it’s best not to make an already ugly situation even uglier, since that clouds an issue that should be perfectly clear.

If You Think You’ve Been Plagiarized

  • Don’t ignore warning signs. If you have an uneasy feeling, trust your instincts. It could be something as simple as seeing language that is too similar to yours in your bio, blog description, etc. (See screenshots below.) If he/she can’t do something as simple as write a bio without copying from you, chances are good other things are being copied, too.Gather evidence. Go through every review by this person you can find to see if you spot familiar markers. Use sites like Duplichecker to help compare. Take screenshots of everything. Posts can be edited, but jpgs are forever.
  • Get a second opinion. Rely on friends to tell you if they see similar problems.
  • Contact the plagiarists ASAP to explain what you’ve found and specifically tell them to take down the offensive material. They will not stop until they are confronted–and even then, it will take time and dogged effort to wear them down.
    If the plagiarist refuses to comply, begin notifying every possible outlet and/or resource affected. (GoodReads, Amazon, Netgalley, Edelweiss, web hosts, tour hosts, etc.) DMCA notices should be filed.
  • Don’t give up. Sometimes the only thing that will make them stop is wearing them down until the rewards are no longer worth the trouble of dealing with your determination.
    Whether your situation is resolved or not, keep an eye out for the copyist. It’s a pretty sure bet he/she is also lifting content from other people.
  • Ask for help. The YA reviewing community can be an excellent resource for ferreting out information, comparing notes, and support in general.

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What Are Your Thoughts?

I wanted to share my experience because unfortunately, it is far from an isolated incident. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think discussion is key raising awareness about this issue. A pretty decent number of eyeballs see my reviews–but if this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

What do you think about this problem that is plaguing our community? What are other ways we can work together to solve this problem? Do we need a group watchdog blog, where reports of plagiarism in the YA reviewing community can be posted?

Thoughtful discussion is welcome below, but please keep the conversation respectful. Feel free to grab the anti-plagiarism button by copying the code on the sidebar, too.

Wendy signature teal

 

 

 

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Further Reading:

Types of Plagiarism
Plagiarism: What It Is and How to Avoid It 
What is Plagiarism?
GoodReads thread

Bloggers Who Have Been Recently Plagiarized:

Plagiarism: We’re Still Doing It
Plagiarism Sucks: Aunti Spinelli
Plagiarism Sucks: Sparkles & Lightning
Plagiarism Sucks: Book Haven Extraordinaire
My Content Was Stolen. So What?
Plagiarism: The Saga Continues

The 2012 Scandal:

I Think We’ve Been Plagiarized
Clarification of The Story Siren’s Clarification
The Art of the Non-Apology
A Year Later: How Plagiarism Caused Me to Lose My Voice

Photo credit: D. Sharon Pruitt.  

No images may be copied from this post without express permission from the author, with the exception of a properly credited, linked anti-plagiarism button.

 

 

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168 Responses to “Plagiarism in the YA Community: My Own Experience”

  1. Giselle

    Great post Wendy and I remember when all of this went down you had a few more people come to you with examples of their reviews being reworded and copied from that person so obviously it was not a huge coincidence. I’m glad that you had it resolved with not so much trouble though she quickly realized that she wasn’t going to get away with it even if she tried to play victim at first. I’ve seen some plagiarism situations where they kept denying and denying and it just got very messy.

    It does suck that people plagiarize and often get away with it (unless they get big enough for people to realize they’ve seen these words before) or even worse, try to play victim when caught. I do think that inspiration can sometimes make people use ideas and reviewing tricks (like bullet points and graphs) for their own reviews without the intention of plagiarizing. I also think that sometimes you can read words and a while later, without realizing, use some of those words in a review (like if a certain saying or phrase structure stuck with you). But continually doing this is when it becomes obviously more than “inspiration” or unintentional use of a few words here and there. You definitely had enough proof and examples to show that this is what she was doing and trying or hoping to pass it off as coincidence to the occasional reader of her reviews. I imagine it would have been especially irritating when people starting Liking her reviews and seeing her rank up in the “best reviewers” list and stuff like that. You explain yourself so much better (and classier) when you’re pissed than I ever could in your emails to her haha.

    A lot of us have been there (which sucks) so we know how it feels, but at least we also know who wins and who eventually loses in these situations.

    Ok so I JUST realized that this was an old post O_O So weird. I actually got an email saying that my blog was linked on this post so I checked it out and I thought it was just posted today/yesterday LOL. I guess I missed it when it was actually posted. I see you moved to WP, too! :) It’s definitely a move I’ve never regretted – UBB alone is worth it! :)
    Giselle recently posted…Fresh Batch (New Releases November 10th – 16th)

  2. Suzanne. .

    What an interesting post. I have not seen any plagiarism online, but I am in the genre of picture books and middle grade books. Why this makes a difference, I do not know. It probably does not. I have just not seen it yet. The difficult part as a reader is, unless you wrote the review that was plagiarized or read the original review, how would the reader even know it was a stolen review? This is how they get away with plagiarism.

    I do not think I would have been patient with this kid. Saying she is not a lazy reviewer because she spends a lot of time finding and clipping those reviews is simply justification. She could have spent just as much time using her own brain but was TOO LAZY TO DO SO. Stealing another’s words is mindless work.

    Congratulations on ridding the blogosphere of at least one plagiarizer. That must be good. But the girl will be back, maybe under a different name, maybe not. But she will be back. Maybe when she returns it will be as an honest person with integrity.
    Sue @ Kid Lit Reviews http://kid-lit-reviews.com

  3. Karlee

    Wendy, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a serious and thought-provoking post. Plagiarism is rampant online and I’ve fallen victim to it myself. As a writer, it’s appalling, having someone take your words and ideas and publish them as their own, taking credit for work that isn’t theirs. I applaud you for taking action and for doing so in a very civil and mature way.

    http://the-writing-well.blogspot.com/

  4. johnnypenn

    I haven’t been plagiarized but I have been accused of it. In an English college class of mine my teach basically pointed out a quite, which was in quotation marks with the the note before it where I said so-and-so said this about such-a-such…and she said I had plagiarized. She wasn’t willing to listen to me and now I suspect she never read it; the class was rather big and she’d been behind getting out papers to us for weeks by then. So I suspect she just scanned it and based on not reading my paper at all, she gave me a bad grade.

    I, however, was pretty pissed about it because I’ve always had a particular loathing for that sort of thing, and then to be accused of it really hurt. But I passed the class despite whatever she thought and my Mom – who actually read the paper – agreed with me that she must not have read it in it’s entirety because she didn’t understand why the teacher would point out something that was clearly credited in the paper.

    My other plagiarism experiences come from Cosplaying. That is costume play and is very popular in anime fandoms. Though, I am sure you’d find some in the more popular ya books you read. Anyway, I follow a few cosplayers very religiously and when one of their pics get stolen by a plagiarist – we all turn into huge trolls and we go after them like nothing you’ve ever seen. I don’t condone trolling most of the time, but for plagiarists…I either read what’s going on without commenting or I’ll comment if they make me mad enough.

    Once. someone sent a mass message out to a cosplayer’s watch list on Deviant Art, which I was on, and said a ton of bad things about this cosplayer. I got so pissed I did comment on their account many times. It was a sock account but still -this person stole pictures and then tried to get us to turn against the cosplayer who has always been up front and truthful with us.

    On LJ there is a com for plagiarism where people go to report instances where fan fic or fan art have been plagiarised.

  5. Cillian Beyond Birthday

    I’m glad this ended. Now you know that you were correct in your antecedent suspicions. I remember the first stages of comparing one review to another, and at that time, it seemed to me like she was a clever plagiarist. Unfortunately for her, she didn’t stay clever and became more and more obvious until she went too far. I still can’t believe what she did in her profile. It was a Xerox of yours.
    Well, she ended up doing the right thing.

  6. Roa Frey

    I’m going to be completely honest – it’s hard for me to care all that much about plagiarism, at least in this form.

    However, I do understand that it is a serious issue to many people, and that an individual should have the right to their own voice, so even if I myself can’t feel any great passion on the subject, I respect you for making your feelings and experiences with plagiarism known. I hope you don’t have to go through such an unpleasant experience again.

    • Wendy Darling

      I really don’t know how to respond to this comment. I’m sorry you don’t see a problem with someone lifting material that belongs to someone else, and fail to see how it harms the person who is plagiarized, the person doing the plagiarizing, and the publishers and authors whose books were involved. I don’t expect it to matter to everyone, but from reading this post it’s clear this is important to me, as well as many other people who take part in the reviewing books. So I’m not sure what the purpose was in leaving a comment like this.

      But thanks for the good wishes that this doesn’t happen again, at least.

  7. Go Flash Go

    This is fascinating. Thank you for posting. I’m fairly new to the reviewing world, and as others wrote, I’m shocked that someone would actually plagiarize a review! With the time and effort it must take to cover one’s tracks and “rework” someone else’s words, you’d think she could have more quickly and easily expressed her own views honestly.

    You treated her much more kindly than she deserved, and I admire your restraint.

    I question the honesty of her last e-mail, but I suppose we shall see.

    • Wendy Darling

      You’re not the first person to question the honesty of her emails, GFG, but as you say–we’ll see.

      Thanks for your comment. I agree, it takes much less time and effort to write your own review. Even a less polished one has more value than one that takes ideas and style from someone else.

  8. Caroline M. Sugarman

    Really interesting post, Wendy, and I’m glad you wrote about it. I used to teach high school English, and the plagiarism issue is near and dear to my heart. I stressed over and over to my students how important it is not to plagiarize and ALSO how not to accidentally plagiarize–because that can happen too, for instance, when a student is doing research; it is all too easy to begin reiterating word for word what one just read. I taught my students how to avoid that. I never thought that a REVIEW could be plagiarized. This is so upsetting, but you handled it with grace and maturity. That’s the best way to go about it, IMO.

    • Wendy Darling

      I was just talking to Laurel Snyder about this, and she wondered if education about plagiarism was no longer being taught in high schools–it seems to be a serious issue right now. I think teaching “accidental plagiarism” is really important, too. And yes, I guess people will take shortcuts even for something like reviews.

      And thank you. I think whenever possible, it’s best to keep things civil.

  9. Hannah

    This was a disturbing but thought-provoking post to read. I can appreciate what a difficult position the plagiarist put you in, but you seem to have handled the situation very well. It’s important that people understand the damage that plagiarism can do, not just to the victim of the act, but to the plagiarist him/herself. Thank you for discussing this topic (and your own experiences) so candidly. I’m sure it could not have been easy.

    • Wendy Darling

      Agreed. It’s awful for the people who are plagiarized, but the plagiarists also lose dignity, respect, and honor in a way that it takes a long time to recover from.

      It was not easy to write this at all, particularly since it was someone I trusted, and whom many mutual friends put their trust in, too. But if it helps other bloggers, it’s worth it. Thank you.

  10. thequietvoice18

    Wendy, you are an amazing and inspiring person. I read a post or two about this on other book blogs, but you really dedicated so much time and effort into creating this detailed, layered, powerful post fighting plagiarism. I’m sorry that this happened to you – however, you’ve gained many supporters due to your assiduous ethic in preventing plagiarism from happening again!

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks so much, Thomas, for your comment here and on The Book That Shall Not Be Named. 2012 was a rough year for sure, but hopefully this will be a better year for the YA community as a whole. It’s important to support each other however we can.

  11. Jenni @ Alluring Reads

    I am so sorry that this happened to you! What a saga it was too, hey?

    What really irritates me about all of this that’s happening is how the plagiarizers are making themselves out to be victims, and the victims out to be bullies! It’s gross and leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.

    I guess at least she apologized, if only it came sooner.

  12. Fivezenses

    Ugh! Not again… I feel like that publishers should have a plagiarism software like english professors at college/university for bloggers from now on. This way everyone that is plagiarism can be weeded out and such, giving those that don’t do this a fair chance to do their job as book bloggers and get a chance to be respected. It’s things like this that make us bloggers look kind of like hacks to those that get paid to review or work in newspapers, etc… Hopefully someday this won’t be an issue anymore and people will have the decency to comprehend how this not only affects the person whose material was stolen, but the community as a whole.

    • Wendy Darling

      Tracking plagiarism in the way isn’t really a publisher issue, Fivezenses–with literally hundreds of reviews to deal with, that’s not something they really can or should be doing. I think the onus is on us to ensure quality control and to encourage a supportive but zero-tolerance (as Melissa says above) environment. I do wish some of the publishers would be more mindful of when plagiarism is proven, though. At that point, it’s surprising to me that there aren’t more consequences.

  13. Melissa

    You’re a classy lady Wendy. Your actions showed maturity, and you’ve dealt with this situation in a way that I commend.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It’s unfortunate that it has happened once again, but as you’ve stated, it’s such an important story for the book blogging community, and we need to stay on top of this and show zero tolerance.

    When one of the most popular book bloggers (at the time) was caught last year, I defriended, unfollowed and haven’t visited her site since. Harsh perhaps, but I feel like the only way to teach people a lesson is by ‘walking the walk’. And this goes for anyone who is caught plagiarizing.

    Melissa @ Book Nerd Reviews

    • Wendy Darling

      Zero tolerance is something to strive for. It doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be forgiven if there is sincere repentance and sincere attempts to make amends–but this “oh, it wasn’t that bad” attitude downplays and undermines a very serious issue.

      I never followed that particular blogger, Melissa, but I would do the same with any person I was in contact with who did the same. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  14. Jenny

    Ack, what a mess! You’ve had to put up with some Crap in the last year, man. It really sucks that this sort of thing goes on and that it’s seemed so particularly rampant lately. Maybe it’s a problem with self-expression? Or a lack of confidence? I dunno.

    Other than staying vigilant, I’m not sure what can be done about it. I’m glad to see that your plagiarist did the right thing in the end. I hope that she really did learn from it.

    • Wendy Darling

      Yeah, I think I deserve a stress-free 2013! ;)

      I think you’ve hit something in saying this may be a problem of lack of confidence and self-expression, Jenny. It’s just a shame that people have to deal with their issues in a way that is so harmful to other people.

      I hope she sincerely learned from this, too.

  15. Savannah Bookswithbite

    WOAH! I had no idea that this went on! I’m so sorry that you went through this. That is horrible. I’ve been hacking out reviews for such a long time, I haven’t even bothered to check to see whether or not things have been stolen from me. But I will check.

    Thanks for talking about that. I can’t imagine what you went through.

  16. LisaFicTalk

    It seems that people will do whatever it takes go to any lengths, to get their hands on ARCs/free books, and to gain popularity.

    It’s rather low and devious, in my opinion.

    Also, as a person who loves books and loves to read, the thought has never crossed my mind to steal other bloggers reviews/ideas/etc. I mean, I’m always killing myself to think of something new and cool – and MY OWN – in order to attract new followers, so reading this post and looking at the screen caps really do blow my mind.

    As usual, you’re always very mature and classy when it comes to these types of things, Wendy. I certainly do applaud you on the way you handled this situation, especially. Just reading it frustrated me to no end.

    Reading this person’s responses to your emails had me at one point shaking my head thinking: they didn’t fully understand the consequences and wrongdoings of this situation and yet they apologise? Huh? How does one apologise without being sorry?
    Also, this person completely knew what they were doing. We all know that plagiarism is wrong, no matter what. We were taught in school not to go on the internet and use other people’s work for papers or we’d be failed for that class. So I’m asking: what’s so different with these two situations? They just thought that this didn’t matter? That we dedicate all this time and energy into our blogs and we”d all be okay with someone who we thought was a friend coming along and taking out hard work and making it theirs?

    I think not.

    Great post, Wendy.

    I could probably go on and on but I’m just too tired right now.

    • Wendy Darling

      It is very low and extremely devious.

      And I agree, she knew what she was doing was wrong. And “I’m sorry but I’m not sorry” made no sense. But it’s typical of plagiarists to try to avoid the issues, talk circles, blame someone else, etc. I’m surprised but glad, for her sake and everyone else that she stole from, that she owned up to it in the end. That doesn’t happen too often.

  17. starryeyedjen

    OH, WENDY! I knew you’d been dealing with this for quite some time, but I had no idea who was involved. I’ve read this post three times and still the shock hasn’t worn off. The first time I saw this was on my phone, and I just about dropped it when I got to the end. I was friends with her! I just thought she had such an eloquent voice for such a young person, but I should have known she borrowed her voice from the most eloquent, thoughtful reviewer I know. I feel awful that I didn’t recognize the signs and continued to praise her reviews. I feel sick and dirty and like I should be suspicious of EVERYTHING now. I thought we were a community of book lovers! Why must it come to this? I am utterly appalled at the gall of this person…to steal your words, your hard work, knowing everything you’ve already suffered in the book world. I just want to say that I am SO SORRY for what you’ve endured and the fact that I allowed myself to be duped. But I’m thankful that you’re such a strong person, that you simply continue doing what you love to do, despite everything that’s happened. You truly are an inspiration, Wendy.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m sorry, Jen–I know this comes as a shock to many of the people who knew her as well, and I’m sorry for it. It was the kind of sly copying that was very hard to spot, so I’m not surprised that it was not apparent to the majority of her readers. (I even told Keertana up above about how difficult it was for me to spot.)

      It is appalling behavior to be sure. But I hope that people who read this don’t ignore the warning signs, like I did–I often got a weird niggle when I heard this person conversing with others in phrases similar to mine, or to other people I knew.

      Thank you for your support, Jen. It means the world to me.

  18. agoldoffish

    Well handled, Wendy – Like everyone else I’m so sorry you had to deal with it, especially on top of everything else you’ve had to cope with. I guess it’s not such a bad thing to be a little fish in a big pond – my only experience (knock on wood) with plagiarism was discovering that an ARC I’d received was heavily copied. That was, literally, breath-taking: I felt like I’d been punched in the chest. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have it be your own work copied. (And with such bizarre responses…) May the rest of 2013 be less dramatic!

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, I will say this–after going through the hell of 2012, it does put things into perspective. So while this is outrageous and frustrating and a huge waste of everyone’s time and effort, the author meltdowns and craziness last year was definitely harder to deal with. Though none of us should have to deal with any of it.

      You received an ARC that was copied? What do you mean? o.O Not sure I understand, but it sounds awful nonetheless. And yes, here’s hoping for a much less eventful remainder of the year!

  19. Amy

    I am glad that this situation has finally been rectified, but it’s awful all that you had to go through to get there. It seems like this is happening more and more and it’s a shame. It really takes away from you desire to want to blog when people are copying your work. I just don’t understand why people even start a blog if they have nothing to say in their own words. It’s sad and disgusting that people keep doing this.
    Wonderful post Wendy, thank you for sharing this story. Fortunately after much stress you actually had a resolution and apology, but it doesn’t undo the damage already done.

    • Wendy Darling

      It is happening to far too many people lately, Amy. :( And you’re right, it’s so time-consuming to have to deal with this, and it’s a huge drain on your enthusiasm and energy as well. I don’t get it, either, but I just hope the rest of this year is better for everyone in our community.

  20. Rachel @ Unforgettable Books

    Wendy, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for ignoring the obvious. I did not realize till the final screen shot, and how her blog is gone, who this person was, but still, I did see similarities between blog designs for so long and ignored it, because I just thought it was an influenced design and other unjustifiable reasons. That’s the hard part of idea plagiarism, its hard to recognize if it just an influence or purposeful. To have evidence of doing it again and again and again, like she, is the only way to be certain. Wow, I am amazed that she plagiarized reviews. I’m sorry that your well-deserved popularity has led to you having to face this terrible problem and the Selection. I remember last year, when I first met you on GoodReads, how friendly you were, how you answered to everyone who commented on your reviews and statuses. How forgiving you are of people’s bad moves. I am so happy to have met you virtually.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, Rachel! (( hugs )) Honey, don’t feel bad about being open to someone you had no reason to doubt. Any one of the things you mentioned or that we’ve discussed here isn’t a cause for alarm–and it was only after going through a great many of her reviews and taking all the strange overlaps together that I really saw a disturbing pattern of behavior.

      And thank you. I’ve tried very hard to be a good friend, though the time demands and one problem or another has worn me down somewhat. But I am so grateful to have met so many wonderful friends who care so much about books, too. Thank YOU for being so supportive, and please know that I appreciate your comment here more than I can say.

  21. HellyBelly

    I have a friend who is a free-lance journalist. She has found, on several occasions, that writers employed by some of the largest newspapers in Sweden have simply lifted and re-written her articles. She had to do what you did – compare side by side, show how whole paragraphs had been slightly re-written and re-worded, but were essentially the same. She received apologies, but this continues to happen and it is extremely frustrating and time-consuming to have to protect your work.
    I am full of admiration for how you handled this Wendy, and I hope that this young person has learned a valuable lesson.
    Still. It makes me sad. Makes me sad that it has to be pointed out to people, several times, that what they are doing is wrong. Where is the integrity? The moral code?

    • Wendy Darling

      Ugh, that’s a shame, Helly–I’m sorry your friend had to deal with that. Certainly this happens in professional journalism, too. And as you say, the frustration and time it takes up is unbelievable.

      And thank you. I don’t know how this person lost her way like this, but I hope she is watching the fallout and sees clearly that the consequences for repeat behavior are grave.

  22. KB/KT Grant

    Plagiarism will continue to happen because they’re aren’t any real legal consequences against bloggers who plagiarize other bloggers unless the blogger victim sues the plagiarist blogger. Look at Story Siren as an example. From what I hear (I refuse to visit her blog or interact with her), she still gets gifts from publishers, respect from YA authors and a lot of traffic. Last year at BEA and BBC I asked one of the publishers In the room filled with bloggers (TSS was there as well) what they would do if they found out a blogger plagiarized. They said they would cut off all ties. No true. That publisher still gives gifts to the Story Siren.

    Not even and pointing fingers and shaming the plagiarist bloggers in public has stopped this. So sad.

    • Wendy Darling

      I agree, there’s no real legal recourse for this kind of plagiarism. So staying persistent when you’re plagiarized may be one of the best things that bloggers can do.

      I remember that you asked that of the publisher last year, KT, and I am disappointed that the answer didn’t match up with reality. Someone said earlier on the thread that TSS’ ARCs and readership has gone down, but…I don’t know. With so little real remorse, and especially with how the plagiarized bloggers were hounded and continue to be affected, I don’t know that many people are satisfied with how things turned out.

  23. Majanka Verstraete

    This was a great, informative post. When people mention plagiarism, I always think about copying entire reviews. It’s “good” (not good, but, well, eye-opening) to see that sometimes plagiarists copy form and style, or mix and match parts of different reviews. It makes me a little wary though, because this kind of plagiarism is a lot more difficult to spot than if someone blatantly copied an entire review.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh yes–for me, it’s even more annoying to see the bits and pieces of style, I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s harder to catch, and maybe because the underhandedness of the whole thing just ticks me off.

  24. Jessi (Geo)

    You handled this so elegantly! I don’t think I would have been able to stay so calm in your situation. And your links were very helpful, I’m thinking about giving the Plagiarism Checker page a try tomorrow. After all this crap going on, I’m freakishly paranoid about getting plagiarized. I think it’s sad and disgusting that we even have to worry about it in the first place. If you don’t have your own opinion, you shouldn’t be blogging in the first place! I seriously think they do it for free books, so they don’t have to work for it.

    Great post Wendy, and so sorry you had to go through that.

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh, there were some choice words behind the scenes, Jessi, believe you me! But I’m glad it stayed civil for the most part, and that you found the post helpful.

      What’s weird to me is that it’s also a lot of work to cut and paste reviews, so I just don’t understand why that time can’t be spent formulating your own thoughts and words. But I guess the fact that we can’t even put ourselves in a place where that would seem appealing is a good thing. Thanks for stopping by, Jessi.

  25. Lynn K.

    So sorry you had to go through this and I’m glad it’s more or less sorted out now. I’ve had my suspicions on who it was the moment I saw you mention ‘similar blog design’ on Twitter because that was the first thing I noticed when I first followed her blog. To see it confirmed, it makes me feel sick to have unknowingly contributed to the “likes” and “follows” of unoriginal content. A watchdog blog of sorts is definitely needed.

    • Wendy Darling

      If you’ve ever been on her blog or talked to her on GoodReads, it’s not too hard to connect the dots. I’m impressed you got it from just that one statement, though!

      And please–don’t worry about being a friend to her. We only know what we’re shown, and what she chose to show us seemed pretty good. Unfortunately, much of it seemed to belong to other people. We’ll just never know what was truly her and what was fiction.

      Unfortunate all around.

  26. Becca Bee

    Sorry you had to go through all of that, Wendy. But I really appreciated this post. You were a lot nicer than I think I could have been if someone did that to me.

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks Becca. Unfortunately, I have the tendency to stay nice until I am absolutely pushed beyond the limit. If I had been less concerned about that, this likely would have been resolved much sooner. *sigh*

  27. Christy @ Love of Books

    Wendy, you handled that beautifully. During the 1st months of my blog being up, I found someone I know who followed me with a review so similar to mine. It pissed me off, but I didn’t say or do anything. Honestly, I was so new to the whole reviewing a blogging thing that I had no idea what to do. Wish I had kept track of that blogger… I can’t even remember the blog name. :-\

    • Wendy Darling

      Ugh, I’m sorry to hear that, Christy! I really do think newbies are often at risk, because they aren’t familiar with the blogosphere and/or don’t have friends yet. I’m just glad it stopped.

  28. Katrina (athousand-lives)

    I’m glad everything settled down nicely for you, Wendy, though the same can’t obviously be said for others who’ve been victimized.

    Can I just say though, Soulless sounds like a fantastic read. On the TBR pile it goes!

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m lucky that it turned out this way, Katrina, even if if did take far longer than it should have. I feel so bad for those who are still working to resolve their issues.

      But yes!!! SOULLESS is amazing. Sort of a very particular taste, as not everyone responds to the author’s style of writing and humor. But I love it and I hope you do, too. If you tell me that you read and loved this book via reading this long, sad post, it will make me really happy, hah.

  29. Donna (Bitching, Books and Baking)

    You are a far better person than I am. On Bites I was plagiarized three or four times and by the end of it if it happened again I was just going to outright lose my mind. There’s just no excuse for it. There is nothing anyone can say that would be a valid explanation as to why I would be reading my review or seeing my feature copied word for word on someone else’s site. Or “heavily influenced” or whatever. None. You don’t want to be heavily influenced by a review? Don’t read reviews of the book you’re currently reading until you write your own. Simple enough. Have a new idea for a feature? Google it first to see if it or something like it already exists. I am so over stuff like that and I certainly wouldn’t have been as nice as you in handling this. My patience for it is cooked.

    The thing is within someone like THE GREAT PLAGIARIST still around and reaping the benefits of her plagiarism it’s pretty much enabling that act. If she would just have the integrity to close up shop or, you know, admit she did something without making excuses for herself it’d be so much better. But all she’s done is said hey kids! Get big enough and you can do whatever the hell you want and still come out with your shit smelling like roses! Yay! Gross.

    • Wendy Darling

      There is no excuse for it. And no matter how tactfully I try to phrase what happened to me, what this girl did was to steal my ideas and voice and try to pass them off as her own. I do exactly what you mention above–if I know I’m going to even reading a book soon, I rarely read any reviews for it, and I definitely don’t make a habit of reading through a bunch of reviews before I write my own. (Some exceptions, but not the norm.) I totally get why you’re fed up–if this happens again this year, you can check back to see if I’m half as nice about it, hah.

      I am with you on the Blogger Who Shall Not Be Named as well. A real apology without excuses and/or shutting down is the only way to have recouped some of that reputation. But clearly, that’s not the case. I am violently opposed to the message that this sends to new and/or impressionable bloggers as well.

  30. Small Review

    Oh Wendy, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. It looks like you handled it admirably and I’m glad the nightmare is over for you. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I’m in a similar situation, but I’m too shy and other areas of my life are too hectic and stressful right now to deal with it. I’ve been putting it off for a while now, and I don’t know how to handle it at this point outside of just ignoring it.

    Plus, I feel mean. I know, that’s absurd. Someone is stealing my content and style, and *I* feel mean if I point that out to them and ask them to stop.

    But you’re right. It’s frustrating and wrong. It makes me want to cry every time I see one of my posts “tweaked” and posted on her blog. Then it makes me want to rage when I see her get ARCs I was denied or when her followers say what great posts she’s written.

    It’s also just unsettling. I write in my own voice. It’s weird to see someone else use my words and thoughts as if they were their own. I wish I had your courage and strength. Kudos to you! Yet again, you set the standard :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Ohhh, Small. :( Please let me know if there’s something I can do to help. As you can see by the evidence trail I laid out for you, hah, I completely understand what it’s like to put off dealing with something unpleasant. There’s part of me that felt the same way you did, that it was “mean” to do this. But you know and I know that that’s not the case.

      I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I understand how frustrating it is, I truly do. Please please let me know if there’s something I can do. I am going to at least try to get some info out of you–because I don’t want to be supporting that kind of behavior, even inadvertently.

    • Small Review

      Aw, thank you for your support, Wendy! I will for sure come to you for help and support if I ever do confront the person. *HUGS*

  31. My anxious life

    All this talk lately in blogging and people copying makes me paranoid. I have never copied anyone’s words but when I first started blogging and had to learn everything on my own I did copy people’s pictures for Waiting on Wends and things like that. Over time I realized that these were things people created and that I should’nt do it. But at the time I really had no idea that these belonged to blogs I thought at the time that anyone could use them who were participating in the meme. EEK!!! Well live and learn.
    Angie

    • Wendy Darling

      I think everyone has a learning curve when they start out, Angie–and I think it’s usually pretty easy to tell those who have made an honest mistake in etiquette/judgment and those who have deliberately set out to commandeer someone else’s work. And there’ a difference in those who learn from their errors, and those who refuse to admit they ever made one to begin with.

  32. K.

    A brave post, Wendy. You’re always the one willing to tackle the most sensitive and potentially controversial topics here on TMG. I also am puzzled by plagiarism — the fact that people are willing to act on it, not the temptation. I understand the pressure and the desire for “blog stardom” (just saying that makes me want to puke). Votes, arcs, comments are all very tempting but to actually make the decision to lift material off others is too much of a risk in my opinion — maybe I’m just a wuss or much too principled, either way…

    I started GoodReads because I love the idea of mapping out my thoughts and possibly have others discuss with me. Three likes or thirty likes never, honest to goodness, ever made a difference to me. Even now when more and more people are requesting to add me, I hold off on most of them, because I don’t want to gain a number, I want to gain a book-friend. This whole thing is obviously calling into question whether people are on here for the right reasons. I don’t doubt that this person, and of course I know her, loves books but she has obviously been seduced by all the perks. That’s when you need to get out of the game and re-evaluate.

    • Wendy Darling

      Agreed. Love of books, and the desire to share them, is the only way to stay untouched by all the distractions and temptations out there. And I think “much too principled” is what you’re looking for.

      I love you, K. And I’m grateful every time I read one of your reviews and comments (here and elsewhere) that someone so profoundly thoughtful and eloquent shares this blog space with me. ♥

  33. Fiktshun

    I’d seen your tweets the other day and I’m so sorry you had to go through all of this. I’m glad, in the end, it was resolved and that the person who perpetrated the crime owned up and did the right thing. It’s unfortunate that the result happened only after a year of wrongdoing and frustration.

    You were very respectful throughout the process, even with your strongly worded email, and I’m so glad that it has, if not happy, then positive results.

    I’m just so sorry you – and the community – had to go through yet another “hit.”

    I can only imagine this situation getting worse before it gets better. With free blogs and the possible “rewards” provided for those who put in little to no effort I can only imagine the problem will get bigger.

    I do think there are different categories of plagiarists – those who just don’t care and don’t want to put in the work and those who feel under so much pressure to perform that they then compromise their integrity when they might not otherwise have in a less pressurized situation.

    Of course then there are those that just want what other people have – their voice, their popularity, their acclaim.

    As you said above, though, it doesn’t matter the reason, it’s the harm that was caused and taking someone’s voice, style, praise is just plain wrong.

    I hope this individual learns a big lesson from this and finds a path in life that will be a more positive one. Her spirits may be down now, but to learn this lesson so early is a positive. This kind of theft in the “real world” doesn’t go away without major repercussions – loss of job, loss of reputation, etc.

    Thank you for posting your story. With all the blogs in the ‘sphere I don’t know how a “watch dog” group could discover everything but it could certainly help those who don’t have the support that you did throughout. It’s sad, though, that it just is yet another thing that takes time away from reading and talking about books. I hope this year is better for you in life and in blogging!

    • Wendy Darling

      You are so, so right, Rachel. There are different kinds of plagiarists to be sure–I’ve seen some awful, trashy behavior, and the tactics someone takes with those people definitely has to be different from the one I took with mine, who I think did fall into “seduced/pressured by glory” side.

      In hindsight, I think she was trying to tell me in her first email that she didn’t think she was doing any damage to me because I already have a decent following–she kept talking on and on about how she wasn’t doing it to try to get to the number of readers I had, etc., and I had no idea why she kept emphasizing that when the only thing I said was to allude to her “ambition.” But yes, it doesn’t matter why someone does it–it’s just plain wrong.

      It’s a very good thing that she learned this lesson early. Your examples of real-life consequences are scary, and before all that, she’ll be going to college–and academic plagiarism is not taken lightly in most schools at all.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and lending your support, Rachel.

  34. Molly Baez

    It is unfortunate that this young individual chose your writing to emulate, but I think you handled this as a wonderful opportunity to educate the young community on what is right and wrong. It is interesting how active young people can become without the right influences, and she is lucky you were so kind. I probably wouldn’t feel so generous. Thanks sharing this and looking out for the reviewing community. It is an icky compliment to be plagiarized, but know that you are a role model for many of us our here.

    • Wendy Darling

      I thought about that too, Molly–it’s so easy to set up a blog now, and to quickly gain “accreditation” without any life experience and judgment that is sometimes necessary to go along with those responsibilities.

      I know many people who would have hung her out to dry in my shoes. I understand the urge for sure, but for me, it was important to try to resolve things with as much respect as possible.

      And thank you–I appreciate my friends a great deal, and it’s makes me happy that the regard is returned. :)

  35. Laura Miller Edwards

    Your response to her final letter was above and beyond– compassionate and professional.

    I wondered about your references to structure– as I understand it (unless you’re referring to sentence structure) stealing the overall structure of a work is not considered plagiarism. For instance, if you read a book that used emails and letters as a means of conveying information, it would be acceptable to use that format in your own work, but the content would have to be different. If the content is original, using someone else’s structure is acceptable (if not somewhat unoriginal). Just wondered if I misunderstood what you meant by “structure.”

    As an English prof, I have to preach plagiarism each semester and still see my fair share of it. We always discuss that you must change wording AND sentence structure in order to create a paraphrase, and even then, if the idea was original to the author, you have to cite that paraphrase. It’s frightening how this knowledge seems to be falling by the wayside with the expanse of the internet. Everything is “shared” and “free.” I have to explain that that doesn’t mean free to steal and use as your own.

    • Wendy Darling

      Hi Laura,

      I understand what you’re saying. In this case, she often copied the structure of the review (opening hook, introductory paragraph, positive points, negative points, closing paragraph), the specific content within those paragraphs paraphrased (discussions of different elements), sentence/paragraph/bullet point structure, and even specific lines. It was the combination of all those things that made this particular plagiarist’s methods quite irrefutable to me, and I mentioned them as markers to look out for more than anything. I’m not an expert on plagiarism, but certainly there are enough commonalities and instances to prove the point.

      The internet has definitely made the waters murkier when it comes to appropriating words and images. We’re obsessed with Pinterest/Tumblr/gifs, and getting away with something once, twice, and then fifty times makes it easier to imagine that you have the perfect right to carry on.

  36. petemorin

    So very well handled, Wendy – no wavering, no ambiguity. And by doing so, you caused an individual with potential but no self-esteem to confront herself, and as a result, she learned a priceless lesson and will (one hopes) be changed.

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks petemorin–I had to be firm, but I didn’t think I needed to be a hardass about it either. At least not until pushed.

      I’m truly glad that she finally responded to the point I was trying to make. And I hope she makes something of herself one day.

  37. Eustacia Tan

    I think the way you handled this is a model for everyone! Still, I hope that no one has to deal with such a situation.

    Personally, I think the worst part of the whole thing was her non-apology.

    • Wendy Darling

      I hope so too, Eustacia–and thanks.

      It was the non-apology that really pushed me over the edge, hah. I was talking to a friend on Twitter, who said that she thought people underestimated how much a real apology can mean. I agree with that.

  38. Belle

    It sucks that this happened to you but you handled it wonderfully. I was plagiarised in the early months of my blog and it felt awful. I emailed the blogger in question and she was apologetic.
    I just don’t understand the thought process behind people thinking it’s OK to copy someone else’s work. I just don’t get it. What is the point of reviewing/blogging if it’s not your own opinion you’re expressing?!

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh Belle, I’m so sorry to hear that. I’m glad your situation sorted itself out quickly, though.

      I don’t get the rationale, either. It’s a lot of trouble and risk, for rewards that seem hardly worth the trouble.

  39. kalasyn

    I hope that girl is okay. She did the wrong thing but she is still a person and she seems pretty depressed. I’m glad you didn’t name her. It would be awful if someone got suicidal over this.

  40. Danielle

    I think you handled that beautifully. This entire blog post should become a ‘how-to guide’ for all bloggers dealing with plagiarists.

    I can’t believe the gall of her first ‘apology’: “I’m not asking you to forgive me, but do know that I am deeply sorry for unintentionally hurting you.” WOW – but I think that’s an attitude all plagiarising bloggers have. They seem to think that what we do and write online isn’t ‘real’ and because blogs are like social networks, then words are up for grabs the same way a person can take a picture from somebody’s Facebook page and post it to their Pinterest account or something. It’s a mix of people being undereducated about the intellectual property rights of blogs and thinking that the somewhat unstructured blogosphere means we’e easy-pickings.

    I think a watchdog would be great. If I had a website I could visit and know who the plagiarists are so I make sure to un-friend them on GR and cancel my subscription to their blogs – I’d find that incredibly helpful.

    But a watchdog would also be great for getting those second opinions when you’re wondering if someone is plagiarizing – I wouldn’t want it to be a place to get your pitchfork, but a community hub where review bloggers could converge and ask for help in these situations so we don’t have to go it alone.

    Well done, you!

    • Wendy Darling

      There was a lot of talking around in circles in that first email for sure. I think you’re right about how the casual abuse/misunderstanding of what is and isn’t okay has contributed to the way plagiarists have so little respect for intellectual property.

      I like the watchdog blog idea, but it’d definitely have to be a collaborative effort. One, because we need a lot of eyes and sounding boards. Two, because everyone’s short on time as it is. I’d find it useful for just the reason you describe–for my own knowledge, too.

      Thank you for your thought-provoking comments, Danielle. Fingers crossed we see less of this in the months to come.

  41. Sarah Johnson

    I’m sorry that you had to go through all that, Wendy! I feel so bad for all these people getting their works plagiarized. I’ll take all these things into consideration concerning my reviews.

    • Wendy Darling

      I appreciate that, Sarah–I feel bad for everyone who’s had this happen to them. And it can’t hurt for all of us to be as careful as we can about copying things we’ve seen, consciously or unconsciously.

  42. Irish

    I’m sorry to read that you were plagiarized, what a horrible thing to have to go through. I really hate how this keeps happening within the YA community. It makes everyone look bad for a few bad eggs. You handled this with grace though and that is to be admired. One day I hope that we can live in a world where this doesn’t happen.

  43. Penny

    I just want to commend you on your patience, courage, and ability handle the whole situation with tact. I’m sorry that this happened to you, and to has/is happening to many others. Like I said before, the world would be a better place if people would just show mutual respect for each other and did the right thing. I hope this doesn’t happen again, though sadly, it most likely will. I hope this post will raise awareness. Thanks for being a solid voice of reason in the blogging community, it’s well appreciated and much needed.

    • Wendy Darling

      Respect is really the key to just about all human interaction, isn’t it? And yet it seems so difficult for people to remember sometimes, especially in our digital age.

      Thanks so much for all your support, Penny. This stuff is never fun, but it’s definitely easier to get through because of friends like you.

  44. Unknown

    I really admire your ability to be as professional and classy as you were about it. My first instinct in this kind of instance is to burn their site down, if you will. But then, to this day, I still get upset thinking about a certain other blogger who was in this situation, never *really* apologized, and has had no real adverse consequences whatsoever and her plagiarism was talked about specifically all over the blogging community.

    Plagiarism is a problem, and people don’t realize that it doesn’t mean 100% copy pasting someone else’s work. I think ownership in our ideas and thoughts and opinions and online identities is why a lot of us blog, and having that stolen in any way is frustrating. It’s especially frustrating (and this ties back to your survey) because for most of us, book blogging is a hobby, true, but it’s also an unpaid internship. And we all pay to do it. Site hosting, site design, book purchases, etc. So when someone comes and takes credit for that sweat and blood? It’s discouraging, because the above mentioned online identity etc. is all most of us have to show as fruits of this endeavor.

    I think you handled your situation in a way that calls attention to the problem, but also helps a young person maintain some dignity in light of a, for me, very sincere apology. This girl is a minor and clearly just caught up in the hubris of youth, and your patience and den mother tendencies probably made a positive impact on her. I’m so sorry this happened to you Wendy (and just as sorry that it seems to keep happening in our community), but I’m glad your saintly patience was so rewarded.

    Thanks so much for this post.

    • Wendy Darling

      I know the situation you mean. It’s disappointing in theory, although for me I mostly regret the number of newbies who likely see that blogger as an example to emulate (being that she is rewarded with ARCs, blog tours, followers, etc), some of whom may not know what happened. I try not to think about it too much, because there’s just nothing to be done about it.

      I love what you point about about the ownership of our ideas, and how we go to so much effort and expense for this–and the only way we’re rewarded is in our online identity. This is SO true! I should have connected the dots with what I was hearing from the survey, which actually included quite a few mentions of plagiarism being a problem.

      And thank you–while her youth and inexperience don’t excuse what she did, her apology felt sincere to me as well. And believe me, I’ve seen a lot of PR apologies. This kind of behavior, though disgraceful and completely wrong, is not irredeemable. I just hope she gets herself on track.

      One of my favorite comments, ever. Thank you again.

  45. Jade

    It would have been possible to overlook it and put it down to coincidence or similar thought processes if it had been just one example but to see all of the examples and all of the obvious stealing of phrasing just disgusts me. I’m lucky that though I am a popular-ish blogger with a nice number of followers I tend to stay under the radar on GR so haven’t had to deal with it myself because I would never be able to deal with that with such maturity and integrity as you did!

    • Wendy Darling

      Exactly. One or two similarities…sure. Not this way, not this many times, not with this degree of matching detail.

      And goodness. GoodReads is like the Wild West these days–I used to be there a lot, but only check in sporadically now. Still handy for cataloging and easy connection with fellow readers, though! Thanks for stopping by and for your message.

  46. readingdate

    Sorry this happened to you, Wendy, and to hear about all the plagiarism popping up. That is disheartening indeed. Thanks for sharing your experience and for all the links – Duplichecker especially looks like a great resource.

    Hope that this year is more drama free for you and filled with great books. *hugs*

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s so sad this is happening so much in our community. I believe several of the other bloggers who have been plagiarized also listed resources that might be helpful as well.

      And thank you–hope the rest of 2013 is drama-free and book-filled for all of us!

  47. Heidi

    Wendy, I’m not sure there is much that can be said at this moment that hasn’t been said already by countless others, but I just have to add my voice to the numbers to let you know how much I respect not only how you handled this, but how you are working to educate the community. I think you did the right thing in NOT exposing this plagiarizer’s name (though I’ll admit I was able to figure it out). While her age is in NO WAY an excuse, I strongly feel that the lack of respect for intellectual property out there is abominable, especially among younger generations. I cannot fathom how in the same e-mail she could admit to committing plagerism, while at the same time not understand what is wrong with it. It is my sincerest hope that she will learn from this experience in her life and have more integrity in her future work. I am thankful that you got a sincere apology by the end, and that she has left the community. I hate the number of similar posts I have read in the past week, but your taking the extra step to educate the community to stop future instances is wonderful. You have such integrity, and I really admire the way you have handled this situation. *hugs*

    • Wendy Darling

      Well, I knew that our mutual friends would likely figure out who this person was, Heidi. And while there is a tiny part of me that feels sorry for her embarrassment, and regrets the hurt she has caused even her readership, I can’t say I’m sorry that you know–because I think it’s important to stay informed.

      I was just talking to Laurel Snyder about intellectual property–I think the freewheeling nature of the internet and social media makes it easy for younger bloggers to feel as though they can do whatever they want without impunity. And regardless of what she wrote, I think she did understand what was wrong with it–she just didn’t want to admit it, because that would be admitting the enormity of what she’d done.

      I hope she learns from this, too. And thank you so much. It means a great deal that, even as a mutual friend, you understood why I needed to write about this.

  48. JQ Trotter

    Oh, wow, I can’t believe that things like this happen … is it really that important to get votes, followers, and page views that someone’s willing to give up their own thoughts and steal others? I don’t understand the point of that. From what it sounds like, that girl (or boy) spent a long time gathering materials from others to put it together as “her own”. Why waste all that time and energy when she could have been doing something original?

    I’m very sorry this happened to you and equally sorry that it has and will happen to others. It’s clear from your reviews and blog that you take a lot of time and effort in reviewing and making posts. It’s not fair that people would take advantage of that for their own benefit.

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. I hadn’t realized it was such a problem. Thank you for also sharing links for more information on this subject. And, most importantly, thank you for all your wonderful reviews and this blog! Going through all of that must have been draining.

    • Wendy Darling

      I don’t understand how material/fleeting pleasures outweigh common sense and integrity either, JQ. And yes, she admitted to spending hours clipping together different review to make her own, which is not a rational thing to do.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful and lovely comment. We put a great deal of thought and care into our content on this blog, but even if we didn’t–no one has the right to take it from us.

      And yes…draining is a good word for it.

  49. Keertana

    Oh no! Wendy, I am SO SORRY! I didn’t even realize that this person was plagiarizing you and I’ve been their friend for quite awhile! I am so distressed by this…I really am! I had absolutely no idea, but seeing all the examples you put up, I’m surprised I hadn’t noticed before! (And to think that I thought her graph for the review of Renegade was original!) Gosh, I am so upset that you had to go through all this! Honestly, I doubt I would have been able to do what you did if I was placed in this position. I know for sure that I’d either just stop writing reviews or I’d let it slide, which isn’t right and I’m so glad that you took a stand. I really feel so bad for being friends with this person now. Wendy, I really hope that by liking her reviews I never contributed to this blatant plagiarism against you and if I did, I apologize from the bottom of my heart. I genuinely did not know and am incredibly distressed that this person was affiliated with such a horrible crime. You’re a true inspiration to the rest of us bloggers, Wendy, so thanks for this remarkable post. Once again, I really am very sorry. I didn’t know at all. :(

    • Wendy Darling

      Oh my goodness, Keertana–please don’t think I blame you or any of her friends for a minute! I was taken in by her too–and so were many people who could never imagined she was capable of this. Let me tell you something that may make you feel better. That Bloodlines review of hers, dated November 2011? I read that review when she posted it, liked it, and even made an offhand comment about how similar it was to mine. For one thing, I confess I skim a lot of reviews–and for another, it just didn’t occur to me that someone I spoke with fairly often would ever do that to me, or anyone else. It wasn’t until I went through all her reviews that I started seeing the pattern.

      Thank you so much, though, for your kind words and for taking the time to lend your support here, on Twitter, etc. I’ve learned the hard way that people can be weird about their loyalties and what they’re willing to stick their necks out for, so–please know I truly appreciate your comments. I know it can’t be easy for you or anyone else who had formed a relationship with her to see this. :(

  50. Christina

    Beautifully done, Wendy. You handle everything with class.

    I’m really glad to see that she has repented. I hope she will take a couple of years, become more confident in her own analytical capabilities and maybe come back and do her own thing. As you said, I think she probably has the raw talent to be an excellent reviewer and writer, but you can’t do that while using other people’s content like a crutch.

    Thanks, Wendy. I know I should have messaged her as well, but I’m really scared of confrontation, so I didn’t. Who knows what I would have done had she not withdrawn. Hopefully, I would have found the courage and confidence to stand up for myself.

    As ever, you are an inspiration.

    • Wendy Darling

      The “couple of years” timeline sounds about right to me, Christina. I don’t really believe that anyone who was so deeply immersed in this could just pull out of it cold turkey, but I sincerely hope she takes this time to reflect and just…find herself before tackling responsibilities that were perhaps a bit too much.

      And it took me forever to message her, so I understand your reluctance to do so all to well. At least this particular situation has been resolved for us both, or so it appears.

  51. A Canadian Girl

    Aw, Wendy, I’m so sorry you were plagiarized! It’s something that keeps happening over and over again and just needs to stop. I feel like people are way too concerned about trying to receive ARCs and have forgotten that blogging is supposed to be fun and not a competition. I think you handled your situation with remarkable class and hopefully, the person involved – I was really disappointed to find out it was her as I was actually planning on sending her an email to find out if everything was okay after seeing all her accounts be deleted – learned something from the choices she made.

    • Wendy Darling

      I agree. I know it’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement and pressure, but there’s still no excuse for going to these kinds of lengths to get what you want.

      I’m truly sorry that she has friends who are now disappointed, Z. It was one of the reasons this post was extremely difficult to write, but I think it needed to be said.

  52. Calla S

    Wow, I’m sos sorry that happened to you. Good, for you for really standing up for yourself you did a great job!

  53. Adeselna Davies

    In Portugal, there is starting to have plagiarism in literary blogs. I have never quite understand why people steal others opinions about books, as it is your own opinion. In order to avoid that, I usually do drinking games (when the books are awful), I also go a little berserk and use terms that most people don’t use on their blogs such as infodump, Mary Sue and other things.

    Also when the book is really good, I tend to make an extensive analysis of the book. Of course most Portuguese publishers detest the fact that I don’t kiss their books’ asses, but that way I avoid writing reviews that are easy to steal ^^

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m sorry to hera that, Adeselna. I don’t understand why people do this either–but hah, your drinking game idea sounds like fun.

      I spend a long time on many of my reviews as well, and I definitely do NOT have a reputation for kissing ass, hah. But I’m glad that this has not happened to you yet. It’s not fun.

  54. Laurel

    Ugh, ugh, ugh. SO painful to read…

    When I was teaching, I had a college student who responded to my allegations that she was plagiarizing in a similar (defensive, then terribly guilty) way.

    I wonder how they get through high school without a basic understanding. Are high schools having trouble parsing out the rules to new media?

    • Wendy Darling

      I’ve seen a number of plagiarists with their pants on fire in the past couple of years, Laurel, and it’s pretty amazing to see how similarly they behave after being caught.

      I responded to you on Twitter about this, but I’ll say this here, too. It may be that this particular person hasn’t been educated in intellectual property rights yet, but by the time you’re in high school, you certainly do know that it’s wrong to copy anyone.

      But I take your point, in that it’s interesting we’re seeing such widespread occurrences of plagiarism in younger people.

  55. Shelver 506

    My gosh. What an awful, awful, awful situation. And yet it could have been so much worse. While I’m sorry you’ve had to deal with this monster of a situation for over a year, I’m so glad it’s finally over. You handled everything remarkably well, and I’ll say it again. I want to be you when I grow up.

    Also, to be honest, I’m relieved on behalf of the plagiarizer as well. She should have known better. What she did was WRONG. But now she’s learned a lesson that she’ll never forget, one that will hopefully stick with her for the rest of her adult life. Better to learn it now while the consequences are limited to blogging and the internet rather than, say, a career as a decorated reporter or best-selling author.

    • Wendy Darling

      I really hope she’s learned her lesson, Shelver–and you’re right, it’s better that she’s learned it now, in this way, than later in life when she’ll get in serious trouble for it. And yes, it’s lucky it happened to be me who caught her out–I know a lot of bloggers who would have eviscerated her both publicly and privately.

  56. Blodeuedd

    Came on over from GR. I know it has been happening lately, but it just keeps happening more and more often. Honestly what’s wrong with people??

    If it happens to me, well, then I will see cos I have spelling/grammar mistakes that I am to lazy to check

  57. Ems

    First of all, I’m so sorry that your content was stolen. I can’t imagine how horrible that must feel. Second, major kudos to you for the way you handled it. Turning it into a learning experience the way you did was fantastic. Instead of being horrible right back, even when you were angry, you reached out with compassion and education. What a fantastic example you are. This is one of the many reasons I’m a regular reader here.

    I hope I never have content stolen. If it happens, however, I hope I can handle it in a gracious manner as well.

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks so much, Em–your kind words mean a lot to me. I was angry when she tried to deny/accuse/save what she’d done, but it takes a heart much harder than mine to read that letter she sent and not at least try to meet it halfway.

      I hope this doesn’t happen to you–or anyone else–either! But I hope if it does, knowing that you’re not alone and that others have been through it will be of help.

  58. Melliane

    It’s so sad to see something like that, and I know it’s more and more present… I don’t understand… I’m sorry they did that to you, it’s so terrible…

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s ridiculous that this happens to anyone at all. Thank you, Melliane. At least my ordeal with this particular person seems to be over.

  59. Livvy

    I haven’t really come across a lot of the plagiarism scandals since I’ve shied away from the large world of the blogosphere in general, but I’m so sorry to hear about your ordeal, Wendy.

    Hope this year turns out to be less stressful and more fun because that’s what blogging should be about.

    Keep at your wonderful blogging, dearest! :)

    • Wendy Darling

      Agreed–there is no reason to be in book blogging except sheer love of books. Full stop. The rest of it is a bonus, not the aim.

      I appreciate your sweet comment, Livvy. Thank you.

  60. Jenn

    This really makes me sad. Mostly because I agree with your argument that plagiarism not only risks less arcs, and votes for the people who deserve them but that it also takes away from the hours and hours they spent reading a book and writing their own review.

    I’m glad that things finally seem resolved. I know that you had a very rough time last year. Hope things improve.

    • Wendy Darling

      I don’t know if plagiarists justify stealing reviews to themselves as fair game because it’s “just on the internet” or because they’re not taking anything away from someone else. But it’s not fair game. And they are damaging many people, directly and indirectly.

      And thank you. 2012 was a major suckfest, but I have my fingers crossed that this year will be better. For all of us.

  61. Lottie Eve

    I am so sorry that this happened to you! Thank you for writing this post and I hope that you will not have to go through this again. I have been noticed a lot of plagiarizing has been happening in the blogosphere and I hope that it stops soon.
    I find it scary that a blogger that I knew and respected plagiarized you.

    • Wendy Darling

      This problem has been going on far too long and far too many bloggers have been affected.

      Since you’ve guessed who the person was who did this, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to come to terms with it–and how difficult it was to write about, especially in trying to leave identifying details out. I spent far too much time trying to protect her when she had very little thought for those she took advantage of.

  62. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    I’m sorry for all the stress you’ve obviously gone through. And I’m glad you finally (!) were able to achieve the best conclusion possible.

    I also appreciate your call for not creating the mob mentality. When that happens, I sometimes find myself more irritated w/those on the attack than the actual offender.

    Thanks for always bringing clarity and reasoning to your posts, Wendy.

    • Wendy Darling

      It’s taken up a great deal of my time and energy, Andrea–thank you.

      It makes me very uncomfortable to see mob mentality, no matter how justified people are in their anger. I understand that most people use Twitter in particular as a conversational tool, but I don’t know–it can lead to a feeding frenzy that I don’t care for. And I agree, sometimes that behavior overshadows what originally happened to begin with.

  63. Adriana (BooksOnHerMind)

    This is just terrifying. I don’t think I would have been as strong as you if I was put in this position. I hope you never have to deal with this again. This was such an informative post. Thank you for sharing. What I don’t understand (I know Arcs and followers are amazing to have) but blatantly doing that… It makes no sense to me. You read the book. You have an opinion about it. Why conform like Adam was saying above? I mean (to further go on his point of view) I would never think anyone would like this part but not like that part of a book just because others are doing the same. That’s just sad. If you rally loved a book and I really didn’t than I will say I didn’t like it in a review. I think that even without Goodreads others would still be doing the same thing. Ugh. I consider readers/bloggers to the best people. They are all really nice and have great opinions. This is a side I never want to see again.

    • Wendy Darling

      Plagiarism doesn’t make any sense to me either, Adriana, particularly for something as fleeting as followers and ARCs.

      I don’t disagree with Adam’s observation that there is sometimes a mass “popular” opinion that many reviewers then seem to follow. Sometimes it’s genuine–some readers know your taste well and respect your opinion. Other times, I’m not so sure. I think those who are more easily influenced are more apt to be swayed by fear of being “wrong” or not smart enough, particularly in the way some reviews are phrased. I’m not saying any reviewing style is wrong, mind you–but sometimes reading a review that implies that people who like a certain book are idiots may play a role in that lemming-like behavior.

      And then there’s the pressure to turn out material, too. I don’t think people who have never run a review blog really grasp how much work it is, and the implied competition when there are only so many ARCs, etc. available. We don’t do many promotional pieces here on TMG, and we’d rather not post something than post something that we’re not happy with. But I understand why some bloggers feel the need to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak.

  64. Lexxie Lin

    Wendy, I am so sorry you had to deal with this! I’m sure the feeling of betrayal must be the worst of all!

    It’s gotten me pretty paranoid, though, both of being plagiarized, and of copying someone I admire without actually realizing I have done so. I know I have my own voice when I write, and I am good at linking back if I see something I like. However, the thing about the ‘about’ section for example is scaring me. I might have to just stay away from other people’s ‘about me’ in the future, and do a new one on my blog…

    I truly hope this plagiarizing trend we’ve been seeing lately will stop! The thing that makes blogs interesting to me is the fact that they are different from each other! I love reading reviews, especially if two people both loved the book, and they explain it differently anyway.

    • Wendy Darling

      “Betrayal” is exactly right. It’s definitely worse because it’s someone I knew.

      We all have to be careful about unconsciously being influenced by things we see in the blogosphere, because I don’t think anyone is immune to it. Taking inspiration from what you see is part of keeping the conversation going, and some things are more serious than others.

      Once I know I’m reading a book soon (within the next few months), I rarely read any reviews as I usually don’t even want to have my opinion colored by someone else’s thoughts, let alone by someone else’s style. But again, this kind of syntax, structure, and style only comes from someone who has very deliberately set out to pilfer someone else’s work.

      I hope this stops as well. Reviews aren’t valuable unless they’re honest, in every imaginable way.

    • Lexxie Lin

      I only read reviews after I’ve read and reviewed a book myself, unless it’s a book I’m not sure about at all. But if I already own a book, or if it’s a book by an author I have on ‘auto-buy’ I won’t read reviews before I’m all finished with the book myself.

      *hugs* Wendy, I hope you’ll have 2013 be a year where you can read books, review them and just have fun with your fellow bloggers!

  65. ahz1

    Wow. Just wow. I can’t believe that this is happening to you and other bloggers. There is no excuse for this. How hard is it to come up with your own feelings about a book?

    I’m glad that she saw that she was doing something wrong and that she finally did something about it. Some of the other stories going around the blogs don’t seem to have good resolutions.

    • Wendy Darling

      Agreed. There might be reasons, but there are no excuses.

      I am surprised but very glad that she finally acknowledged what she did as well. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else apologize so thoroughly in this type of situation, and there’s something to be said for that.

  66. Nick

    Reading this made me really sad. I know exactly who this blogger is because I interacted with her often. I never thought one blogger that I follow religiously would do something like that. Wendy, I’m really sorry this happened to you. It must have been really hard, but I’m glad it ended on a positive note. It’s a good thing she came to realize her mistake. Thank you for posting this, Wendy.
    *Hugs*

    • Wendy Darling

      This whole affair made me pretty sad too, Nick. I was shocked and disappointed by her behavior, particularly after I talked to her about it the first time.

      Thanks so much for your kind words. I sincerely hope that she learns from this humbling experience and truly thinks about why she allowed herself to be involved in something like this at all. There’s no way of moving on and growing as a person without that.

  67. Midnyte Reader

    I’m so sorry this happened to you and I thank you for docmenting it here. I appreciate all the work and heartache and stress you went through to resolve this situation. Hopefully, it will help other bloggers.

    • Wendy Darling

      That’s my hope, Midnyte–that hearing this experience helps other bloggers, whether they suspect it’s happening to them, or whether they think just about this issue more. You just never know when you may spot something disquieting that may end up helping someone else.

  68. Julie@My5monkeys

    wow wendy my heart goes out to you. This is such a shame when someone has copy someone else’s words. This seems to becoming more rampant since last year. I am glad that you were able to get some justice. Hugs

    • Wendy Darling

      Thanks, sweetie. This has been such a huge problem this year, but hopefully as we raise awareness people will be on the lookout for each other.

  69. Adam Selzer

    When we’re sitting around complaining about the blog scene (which, frankly, is pretty much all authors do), almost all of us mention trends we notice where if Blogger X says your characters are great, but the ending is predictable, you’re likely to get 10 reviews in the next week saying exactly the same thing (and making the same mis-spellings of a characters name, etc). Then if Blogger Y says she hated the characters but the ending was a nice twist, you’ll get 10 reviews saying THAT instead, with the same clues that many of the next ten didn’t actually read the book, just the review they’re parroting. It can go from parroting to plagiarism very quickly. There are lots of reasons that it happens – some of them are just examples of bloggers who value quantity over quality (an attitude that I think goodreads subtly encourages), some are probably trying to kiss up to certain bloggers (or at least avoid drama) by seeming to agree with them all the time.

    • Wendy Darling

      I think pressure to produce material and a desire for approval/free books can sometimes be overwhelming, particularly for new or young bloggers who are trying to find their voice. There are certainly flaws in the GoodReads system and some inherent flaws in the model of YA blogging that is the norm. It’s not easy to navigate it, even with experience and perspective, so in some ways it’s not surprising that we’re seeing so much of this lately.

      And I’ve been on Absolute Write and other forums, so I’ve seen what you authors get up to!

  70. Caitlin

    I don’t really have any intelligent things to add to the discussion. I will say it is sad that I do not find the abundance of plagiarism surprising. I’ve been involved in different online communities for over ten years and plagiarism always seems to be a problem.

    Not that that makes it better when it happens to you…it’s just…interesting to see how people behave with a modicum of anonymity.

    I hate the idea of this happening to friends of mine, and I hate that arguably the most popular of names in our part of the blogosphere, a person who many young people look up to, was involved in this as well and suffered no consequences. I think that, more than almost anything, has shown people that they can get away with it, and still be liked.

    I hope nothing like this happens to you, or anyone else, ever again. And I hope, as a community, this is just a phase that we move past.

    • Wendy Darling

      Anonymity is sometimes a leveling factor, just as some otherwise rational people suddenly become jerks in the privacy of their cars. I agree that it’s a problem that well-known names have been involved in plagiarism without consequence; that doesn’t set a good example for the many newbies who follow that blog.

      I hope this phase is over, too. And thank you for taking the time to comment and RT even while you’re at ALA! It’s going to be interesting to me to see how many of our mutual friends will actually say something about it. It was an eye-opener to me last year to see what little support, public and private, I got from some people who I once considered friends.

    • Jennifer @ The Bawdy Book Blog

      I do think she suffered consequences though. Sure, she still gets ARCs from pubs, and some people still like her. But if you look at her mailbox feature a year ago and you look at it now, the numbers are pretty staggering. She lost the support of a lot of bloggers and readers in the community. People turned their backs on her and that says something. I think that’s a pretty significant consequence IMO.

    • Caitlin

      Oh. I didn’t realize that as I don’t visit her blog. Though I didn’t really beforehand either. I guess I just got the general ~feeling that no consequences had befallen her.

    • Wendy Darling

      I’m not really gunning for anyone, but I feel a little better hearing that, Jennifer. It’s disappointing that publishers who said they wouldn’t work with plagiarists have continued to do so, but certainly I’ve never followed the blog so have no idea what has changed about it since last year. I just hope people make informed decisions when situations like that come up.

  71. Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com

    Thank you for site that doubles check for you! That’s very helpful.

    And thank you for your advice. I whole heartily agree then when someone has plagiarized we as a community need to stand up and unfollow them.

    I also like that you requested she involve her parents due to her age. Class act move. Bravo!

    I’m sorry this keeps happening to you sugar.

    • Wendy Darling

      Sure thing, Juju–I hope those links are helpful if and when this comes up again for someone else.

      I actually didn’t even realize she was a minor until she passively-aggressively told me so in response to the first time I confronted her about this last year. I think with minors, when these things come up it’s important to remember that you’re the adult.

  72. rabbitsfortea

    I’ve been hearing a lot about book bloggers getting plagiarized these days, it’s beyond ridiculous. So sorry to hear that it hit you too but thank goodness whoever it was actually came to her senses and deleted everything.

    Sigh, hopefully with more people speaking up about this, the plagiarism will eventually die own.

    xoxo

    • Wendy Darling

      This ended as happily as it was going to, for both me and her, so I’m glad for that. But it’s certainly better if no one ever had to go through this to begin with.

  73. Blythe Harris

    Holy crap! I’m so sorry you’ve gone through this, Wendy. I know who this person is, and I’ve spoken to her a few times and she’s seemed nice, but this is truly eye-opening. I’ve sent you a DM on Twitter, with a cache link to another review she copied from none other than Karen. *sigh* Again, I’m so sorry you had to go through this. The entire internet really should just give you a break for next hundred years, considering all you’ve gone through in 2012. *hugs*

    • Wendy Darling

      I remember seeing her review of that book and having an uneasy feeling that it was similar to something I’d seen before, but I couldn’t put my finger on it! I’m glad you caught that. It’s pretty ballsy to be copying from reviewers whose work is seen by so many people, isn’t it? But she probably thought, rightly so in some ways, that people are so busy they wouldn’t notice. But these things have a way of coming out eventually.

      I’ll take that 100 year break, hah. Thanks, Blythe.

  74. Aa'Ishah

    I’ve seen several cases of this over the past few months, where other bloggers have had their work copied, and it’s worrying to say the least. If people can’t come up with their own material, they shouldn’t bother trying to write a review in the first place. I’m sorry you had to go through this whole debacle; I’m glad that it at least ended with some measure of civility and that this person finally realised what they were doing and the consequences it led to. The idea of a watchdog blog is certainly an interesting one. At the very least we do, as you say, need to stand up for each other and come together against plagiarism. Thank you for sharing this, Wendy. I can only hope that it never happens to you again and that something can be done about this. *hugs*

    Aa’Ishah @ Reading Under the Stars

    • Wendy Darling

      I am very glad that she finally seems to realize the enormity of her actions, too. I was silent for over a year before I even hinted at a problem online, but I really do think it was seeing how angry I had become–and I don’t get angry about too many things–and seeing how other people were reacting to hearing just a small part of the story that finally got her to examine her actions.

      And thank you for the hug! Always gratefully accepted.

  75. Bookworm1858

    Ugh, this is so depressing to read! I mean if you’re stealing content in order to have a larger presence in the blogosphere, you will get caught! Because more people will find out and hopefully will stand up for themselves. So sorry to find out about this happening to you and glad it ended with the plagiarizer admitting her wrong-doing…eventually.

    • Wendy Darling

      I think a lot of bloggers place too much importance on rankings and peer approval. They’re fun to check every now and again, and they definitely help with publisher approvals–but they need to be viewed in the proper context. I understand that since publishers quantify us this way, it can be easy to fall into that way of thinking–but as bloggers, we need to concentrate on building quality.

  76. Ashleigh Paige

    Wow. Just… Wow. I know who you’re talking about (partially because you left her name on the screencap of her profile) and it’s hard to believe she did something like that, but she very clearly did. I was friends with her too, so I’m wondering if she plagiarized some of MY reviews too before she deleted everything. If she were still on Goodreads at this point, I would have defriended and blocked her. I’m sorry you had to go through that with someone you used to be friends with, but thank you for this well-written post.

    I’ve been meaning to make my own post on plagiarism for the last few days, but life decided to drop a few tons of work on me instead. As far as I know, no one has plagiarized me yet. I hope it stays that way or someone tells me if they come across a review that sounds too much like one of mine.

    Also in that last screencap, how many friend requests and PMs you had piled up is just jaw-dropping. I almost want to take care of them for you because I’m a little neurotic about my friend requests/PMs/notifications being taken care of.

    • Wendy Darling

      Ugh, I literally jumped out of bed to go swap those out–thanks for mentioning that. I couldn’t believe the person I thought I knew was capable of this either, AP, although I guess it’s a good reminder again of how little we really know the people we interact with online.

      I hope you will write about plagiarism when you get some time–I think the more discussion there is about it, the better. And maybe it will help prevent it in some small way, too.

      I used to be on the ball about GoodReads too, but I’m not around nearly as much as I used to be. With over 7000 friends and followers and literally dozens of new followers/friend requests daily,it’s impossible to keep up with now, so I do them in batches when I have the energy. I also had to make peace with only answering comments on a few books at any given time, because the amount of time it was taking was crazy.

  77. Debby

    Great post! As a new book blogger, it’s hard to believe that people would go to this extent for views, votes, and ARCs… But you handled the situation extremely well, and I’m glad that it was resolved with such civility. I’ll be saving this post for if I ever encounter such an issue, but I hope I won’t!

  78. Jaz

    Woah that was a really long post but so worthwhile!

    I am so sorry you had to go through that. Confronting someone about such a serious issue must have been so hard :(

    I just went through all the screenshots making comparisons – at first I didn’t see the similarities but the repeated structures and phrasings started jumping out after a few. It was sort of sly the way it was done :(

    This is becoming such a serious issue. You’re the 3rd reviewer I follow that this has happened to in the past month.

    I’m just happy yours ended on a (relatively) good note.

    Hope this stops!

    • Wendy Darling

      I put off confronting her for a long time, Jaz, but once I did (and even before it was resolved), I already felt better about it. Which is a lesson for the next time an unpleasant situation arises. It’s so hard when it’s someone you sort of know, however.

      As I said in my letter to her, I think that in the blogosphere, copying style elements in bits in pieces is even MORE damaging and insidious than copying an entire review. Partly because it makes it harder to spot, partly because it makes the original reviewers doubt themselves. But mostly because aside from content, style can make or break whether a review connects with a reader.

  79. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I truly don’t understand the point of plagiarizing. It does more damage then good and hurts more than helps. Why don’t people just read the book and talk about how *they* feel? When I read other bloggers’ reviews, I want to hear their thoughts, not something recycled from another blog. It certainly doesn’t help that some of the biggest plagiarizers are still active and profiting from their blogs.

    I don’t know if a watchdog group is the way to go but we do need to look out for one another and keep educating.

    • Wendy Darling

      I agree–there’s no point in a review if it’s recycled material. And I agree that the lack of consequence for previous plagiarists we’ve seen is contributing to this problem. I think sometimes the pressure of turning out engaging material, and the want to make your voice heard can cause this kind of thing to happen. I know the pressure gets to me sometimes, too.

  80. Faye M.

    Thank you so much for this post, Wendy. It’s the most informative and well-thought out post about plagiarism in the YA community today. I was saddened and angered that you, of all people, were plagiarised, but I’m happy that it all worked out in the end civilly. I still hope that one day we’ll still see this plagiarist but in an entirely different light. Like you said, she does have a voice of her own, a voice that can stand by itself without depending or copying others.

    Unfortunately, we cannot truly stop other people from doing what they want, be it for various reasons. But at least for today, the YA community became a better place.

    • Wendy Darling

      I think it stayed civil because I stayed civil, although believe me, I had some choice words privately.

      I have mixed feelings about “seeing this plagiarist” again, to be honest. Like you, I think there’s an interesting voice in there. (Although my husband said I should check to see if that, too, was plagiarized, hah.) But if she came back, I think I’d want to know it was her and not a new identity, otherwise I’d feel totally duped by/paranoid about by it if I found out later. Though I’d understand why she’d want to start fresh, too. I guess I think she needs to think long and hard for a long, long time about this before attempting anything like this again–and if she does, I hope she tells me or someone else that she’s starting over and who she is, even if she asks us to keep it in confidence. I think knowing someone’s watching can be a deterrant…though maybe that’s just wishful thinking.