If you don’t want to be called out for plagiarism, then don’t plagiarize.

Twitter, Y U DO THIS? I come home thinking I’ll just wash some dishes, de-grunge my hair, and work on a little urban fantasy. The Internet had other plans.

Sarah at Smart Bitches Trashy Books gives us the scoop on how prominent YA book blogger The Story Siren got caught copy/pasting other bloggers’ posts and passing them off as her own writing. The Story Siren doesn’t appear to have grasped the “got caught” part on the first try.

Kristi Diehm, better known as The Story Siren, was allegedly caught lifting articles about blogging and making minimal changes to them for her site. Bloggers B from Beautifully Invisible and Vahni from Grit and Glamour found the evidence and confronted her about it. Their entire story is like a master tutorial on how to use analytics to identify who is reading a website, and when – and in this case, possibly why.

Part the first: Beautifully Invisible is plagiarized, and figures out who it is, where they came from, and what they looked at.

Part the second: Grit & Glamour explains options for dealing with similar circumstances, and explains the steps they took to address the theft of their content in this instance.

According to the write up of the process at Grit and Glamour, Kristi responded by saying:

“In all honestly, I have never been to your blog or any of the blogs mentioned in this email until tonight when I cross referenced the posts that you had listed. I rarely if ever read blogs beyond the book blog community. But I could not agree more with your assessments of the posts. And I am sorry to say that I have no viable explanation. I even searched my web history to see if perhaps I had read the posts and had recalled them as I was writing my own.”

The statement that she’d never visited their sites despite the ample IP evidence to the contrary led to a request that she delete the content, which she did.

Then she responded in part by saying,  “I’ve tried to be as obliging as possible and in turn I’m hoping that you will allow this to stay private.”

Folks on Twitter who weren’t part of this request for anonymity about the accused plagiarist, looked the images online, both of photos and geographic location, and helped identify Kristi Diehm from The Story Siren.

Sarah points out that Diehm’s actions do not only offend the original writers of the content she used without credit; she’s crapped a very big bed. Diehm is someone who, having spoken out against plagiarism herself, really ought to know better. Now it’ll be difficult to determine what content on her site is her own material, and how much was ripped off of lesser-known bloggers.

You didn’t think that was all, did you? Oh, no; it gets better. Sarah has added The Story Siren’s “explanation and apology,” pasted in from a blog post with closed comments. I’m screen-capping this thing just in case she deletes it like when she destroyed the evidence.

Yeah, no.

Now, since I’m a lover of language, why not go through this thing piece by piece?

I owe you an explanation and an apology.

Please don’t take my silence on this issue until now as an admission to anything.

Umm? You owe us an explanation and an apology, but you’re not admitting to anything. O-kaaaay.

I made a mistake. I freely admit that. I am disappointed in myself and I’m embarrassed. I’m deeply saddened and distraught that I have broken your trust.

Kind of sounds like, “I’m sorry I got caught.”

I don’t want to give you any excuses. In a way I feel as though it won’t matter what I say at this point.

Awful lot of “I” here. Do you have anything to say about the bloggers whose content you plagiarized?

It seems that the verdict has been decided. I was accused of doing something that I am vehemently against, and intentionally or not, I know that there will be consequences.

Yeah, the verdict has been decided based on IP evidence. If you’re vehemently against other people plagiarizing, then the first way to take a stand is to set a good example. This “intentionally or not” business is just word salad.

You may be wondering why I didn’t address this issue earlier. The fact is, I thought it was taken care of privately. After the issue was brought to my attention I was appalled. I would never do something like that. That is NOT me. I thought that I did everything that I could do, to make the situation right.

You make it sound a lot like someone else did this and you simply failed to prevent it. That’s actually not the case at hand.

I’ve struggled immensely internally with this, because this is not the type of person that I am. I felt like the fraud I was accused of being.

Still no admission of guilt. Can’t very well explain or apologize for anything if you don’t admit to what you did.

I didn’t want to keep it private for the reasons that you are thinking. I’m not worried about what people will think of me. I’m not saying that it doesn’t hurt, it does. I’m not immune, but that wasn’t my biggest concern. My biggest worry was the authors and publishers that I host.

The length of this fauxpology makes it fairly obvious that you DO care about what people will think of you.

I offer them something. A viewership. I offer them the chance to have their book seen. I didn’t want to deny them something that I had promised. I now fear that is the case.

Oh, what is that I don’t even.

Most other book bloggers manage to help authors and publishers by showing off their books without ripping off other book-lovers. If you see a passage at someone else’s blog that you think will help promote an author’s work, then give credit with a link. You’re actually not being asked to clear a very high bar.

I don’t expect your forgiveness. I don’t even expect you to understand. I can’t ask that you continue reading The Story Siren as a result, and I respect your decision to not do so. The only thing I ask of you is that you take this apology as a sincere one.

I don’t see any apology here. Look, try this:

“I fucked up [brief rundown of offenses], I’ve been called out [acknowledge Internet sleuths and their evidence], I’ve learned from my errors, and I won’t do it again.”

It would be a place to start.

But don’t you ever, EVER blame it on the authors. You should know how much authors despise plagiarists. This had nothing to do with what authors needed from you and everything to do with promoting yourself.

7 thoughts on “If you don’t want to be called out for plagiarism, then don’t plagiarize.

  1. Plagiarism is a nasty thing to do. On my site I am so paranoid of doing it by accident I give everyone credit for everything! If I read a blog and get an idea for my own piece, I give the original blog credit or at least a link and thanks for “turning my mind”. It really is too bad that people who want to write, and do so publicly do not want to do the work. The reality is that no one is making us do this blogging thing…if you don’t want to do it, then just stop…not a hard concept.

  2. Ahhhh plagiarism … I have flunked a number students – both undergrad and grad – for plagiarizing. Even when I warn, on the very first day, how I deal with plagiarizing … always disappointing.

Comments are closed.