A Tale of Plagiarism Continued: Clarification of The Story Siren’s Clarification

via SSS Library Research Guide

I wish I could start this post by saying that I am sorry that the truth behind The Story Siren has come out but I would be lying.  I see how devastating this news has been for the YA Book Blogging community but, in hindsight, they deserved to know the whole truth.

So I’m not sorry.

I don’t know how it happened, but I am glad that somehow, someway, members of the Book Blogging community ended up reading our posts and identifying Kristi as the person who had plagiarized our content. I’m not sorry that the truth was exposed, but I am sorry that some people have used this as an opportunity to bully. Bullying is not OK no matter how you look at it.

Bullying Kristi won’t fix anything.

Bullying ME also won’t  fix anything (I’m talking to you, you hate e-mailers).

The only thing bullying has done in the last 24 hours is make Kristi out to be the victim here.

Let’s make one thing clear.

Kristi is NOT a victim.

We are the victims.

Please don’t forget that.

She is the one who committed the crime and now that it is public knowledge, she has to deal with the consequences.  Those include owning up to what she did and admitting that she is guilty of knowingly plagiarizing our work.

Well, guess what?

Even in her latest “Clarification” apology she doesn’t quite manage to do that and instead invokes more doublespeak.

In her apology, Kristi says:

Let’s try this again. I owe all of you, the blogging community and my readers a much better explanation and apology. My first apology was written out of emotion. I should have given myself the time to reflect before responding. I didn’t do that and I tend to let my emotions rule.

… When I first received the allegations of plagiarism, I was presented with the information and could not deny the facts. While the content was not identical the subject matter was. It was a confusion of inspiration and plagiarism on my part. I am not denying my actions. I was in the wrong.

… Was I feeling pressure to do something new and engaging? Something helpful and interesting? I was. Had I only paid more attention to where my inspiration was coming at the time, I should have handled the situation much differently. A simple email asking for permission or a link back should have happened. And I didn’t do it. I’ve preached that thousands of times. I lacked in taking my own advice…”

UPDATE 4/26/2012: Kristi has now edited part of her original “clarification” apology to read:

“When I first received the allegations of plagiarism, I was presented with the information and could not deny the facts. While the content was not identical the subject matter was. I thought only content could be plagiarized. Changing a few a words around with a thesaurus, or simple copying and pasting content. It seems as though taking a general topic and rewriting it is plagiarism. That is simply my own ignorance on the matter, and I should have known better. It was a confusion of inspiration and plagiarism on my part. I am not denying my actions. I was in the wrong. I read a post, I thought it was interesting and wanted to make it into something that would be relevant for book blogging.”

Now, let me refer you to Kristi’s now-deleted post on plagiarism which she originally published on April 16, 2010:

“Plagiarism isn’t just copying and pasting word for word and passing it off as your own. It can be taking someones work and changing around the sentence structure, getting out your thesaurus and changing a few words here and there… basically taking the central idea tweaking it and passing it off as your own work.”

That post was in response to a plagiarism scandal and Kristi was one of the bloggers who weighed in at the time (read this post for the details).  What did they all agree on? Paraphrasing work and passing it off as your own is a form plagiarism.  


Please note the parts in BOLD in both versions of the apology above.

Now, some clarification from ME:

Kristi knew full well where the “inspiration” was coming from because she consistently visited our original posts the SAME DAY that the plagiarized posts were published on her own site.  She knew exactly what she was doing.

It wasn’t case of confusion, it wasn’t a case of “inspiration” gone wrong. 

It was a case of pure laziness and she got caught.

Need more proof?  Here you go (click on each title to see the images – they are quite sizable.):

Exhibit A Shows:

  1. Kristi visited my site, Beautifully Invisible, 29 times between September 23, 2011 and January 20, 2012;
  2. A quick glance at the length of each session since September 23rd indicates that she spent over 4 hours on my site. That isn’t just a few minutes… that is HOURS.
  1. She visited my “10 Popular Blogging Myths Debunked” post (published by me on October 5, 2011), on both October 27th and October 28th, 2011
  2. These dates correlate with the date the plagiarized post, “10 Book Blogging Myths Debunked”, was published on The Story Siren (October 28th, 2011)

Exhibit C Shows:

  1. She visited my “10 Things About Your Blog That Drive me Crazy” post (published by me on April 8, 2011), on both November 12th and November 11th, 2011
  2. These dates correlate with the date the plagiarized post, “10 Things I Dislike About Your Blog Post”, was published on The Story Siren (November 12, 2011)

Exhibit D Shows:

  1. She visited my “Guest Post: How to Not be a Savage Blogger” post (published by me on June 8, 2011), on both October 5th and October 6th, 2011
  2. These dates correlate with the date the plagiarized post, “Getting Followers without being SPAM”, was published on The Story Siren (October 8, 2011)

Exhibit E Shows:

  1. She visited my “Introduction: So You Want to Leave Blogger for WordPress” post (published by me on November 8, 2010), on December 9th and December 10th, 2011
  2. These dates correlate with the date the plagiarized post, “Why I Left Blogger”, was published on The Story Siren (December 10, 2011)

If anyone can enlighten me as to how someone who is not only an established Book Blogger, but someone who is apparently one of the TOP YA Book Bloggers in the blogosphere can not be aware where her inspiration is from given those facts, please do?  I think the evidence speaks for itself.  Kristi came to my blog on the days listed above with every intent to plagiarise my content.  

It wasn’t a mistake. 

It wasn’t an accident.

It was deliberate.

It was pre-calculated.

In her latest apology, Kristi asks myself and Grit and Glamour to not judge the YA Blogging Community by her actions and I am certain that I speak for both of us when I say that we won’t.  We’ve met some great bloggers as a result of this nastiness, and that at least is something good that came of this situation.

I speak only for myself, however, when I say that I won’t accept Kristi’s apology until she admits that she knowingly and with intent committed this plagiarism

UPDATE 4/25/2012: Grit and Glamour has now published her own post which addresses this unfortunate situation and also speaks to the people who have decided that skewering us, the real victims, somehow absolves Kristi of any wrong-doing.  Even though I didn’t write-it, I co-sign every. word. she. wrote: Now its’s MY turn for a “clarification”…

Am I being harsh?  Perhaps, but I think I have a right to be harsh in these circumstances.  Apparently, Kristi is viewed as a role model by other YA bloggers out there which is something I was not aware of when we published our original posts in January.  Knowing that, the fact that she is still making excuses is simply is NOT acceptable to me.

My message to Kristi is this:

Take full responsibility for your actions  and admit that you knowingly and deliberately plagiarized our work. Until you do, I won’t believe nor will I accept any apology that you offer.  

Please stop making excuses. Please stop making this out to have been some sort of accident. You knew full well that what you were doing was plagiarism – you wrote about this very type in 2010. Was it was a mistake? Yes, a big one. But nothing is unforgivable if you own up to it.  

UPDATE 5/24/2012:  Kristi recently reawakened this whole debate again by launching a week-long series about plagiarism on her blog.  Read my response to her non-apologies to date here and Grit and Glamour’s related post on Damage Control 101 here.
{ 130 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Breyana Irvinia Brown November 4, 2013, 9:51 AM

    i think plagiarism is a big crime because you stealing somebody work. they worked on that for god knows how long people dont got time for it. stealing somebody else work is like cheating. people write to express the way they feel about there selves or the world and other people. so dont commit crime if you dont want to do the time just be yourself no matter if you good at it or not. or lets scratch that out everybodys good at writing if its drama, friendly or what ever else. just think about the stuff on facebook, myspace, twitter, or instagram you put up. IT EXPRESSES YOU!!!!

  • caroline @ c.w.frosting September 10, 2012, 11:01 PM

    Found you via Grit & Glamour & her related post. Plagarism is disgusting and inexcusable, and to host an entire series on the topic after the fact without even an apology?! I’m so sorry this happened to you.

  • Amanda May 30, 2012, 10:43 PM

    I have to say I didn’t fully understand what was going on until last night. I must have been living under a rock or something but I’m not a book blogger or a book tuber. I’m a book lurker, I enjoy watching other people’s youtube book videos and reading their blogs. I love seeing what other people are reading and buying and that included TSS blog and youtube channel. I loved her videos and reviews and I’m devastated to find out that she did this and to not even own up to it which makes it all the more insulting. I cannot condone this nor will I follow her anymore not until she makes amends to you and Vahni personally. I have read her apology or should I say her non-apology extensively and she’s not sorry to you (her victims), no she’s just sorry she got caught. She knew what she was doing and that’s what makes this so disgusting. For all those haters who sent email to these two lovely ladies who have been very gracious in the face of this. Shame on you. Kristi is not the victim in this but the perpetrator and you should remember that. I support you 100% and will continue to do so.

  • Tammy Cordeiro May 24, 2012, 12:20 PM

    I am so glad that I finally got to the bottom of this story! Like many others, I read the “apology” post that TSS first put up and was very confused by it. Even this week, when she is doing her special expose on plagiarism, I found myself thoroughly confused. But now that I know the facts, I find myself thoroughly disgusted!

    I just finished a 2 1/2 year Master’s degree program in Library Science where we spent a lot of time talking about this issue. People need to realize that plagiarism and copyright violation IS A BIG DEAL!!! It is theft. It will get you kicked out of universities and it will land you in court if you plagiarize the wrong people. Not to mention that it is ethically and morally abhorrent. I am so disappointed in TSS. She should be ashamed.

    I am so sorry that your work got plagiarized, but I am glad that at least the whole mess led me to your blog, where I plan to read all of the original advice posts to help with my own blog! Keep your head high and be proud that you have stood your ground!

  • Nicole May 21, 2012, 11:25 AM

    I agree with you and I feel that people should take responsibility when they do something wrong. An apology is due. I just don’t understand why it is so difficult to admit wrongdoing, take responsibility and apologize!

  • Pearl May 19, 2012, 2:03 PM

    This is very sad, I am glad you managed to get to the truth but agree you deserve a real apology and it is shameful you have been attacked over it!

  • Hamir Dassle May 9, 2012, 4:51 AM

    Plagiarism is a big crime because you are stealing someone’s information, which they took a lot of time to compile and easily using it for your own benefit. Nowadays there are many applications that you can get online for free which are meant to help in re-writing the articles and therefore I still do not understand why some people have to use plagiarized articles.

  • Jo @ Once Upon a Bookcase May 6, 2012, 6:12 PM

    Wow. So taking part in In My Mailbox – a meme hosted by The Story Siren – and reading other posts for the meme, I saw there was some drama, but unclear on what it was. Research and a lot of reading of your posts, and… wow.

    Not only do I feel bad for you and the other bloggers Kristi has plagiarised, I feel betrayed. As you have stated, Kristi is pretty big in the YA book blogging community. People look up to her. I have personally gone to her for advice. I have been book blogging for three years now, but when I started, it was with the help of her blogging tips posts that I learned how to be a better blogger. She may have plagiarised your posts last year, but I don’t know whether or not those other posts that helped me were plagiarised as well. And can’t count the number of times I myself have advised new bloggers to check out her posts for advice. I am just so angry! Reviewing is all about honesty, and something our community swears by – that SHE swears by. I just feel really let down.

    I’m so sorry that Kristi did what she did. It’s inexcusable, but so much worse that she isn’t apologising as she should or owning up to it. I am so, so glad I did my research, because from reading Kristi’s posts alone, I wasn’t sure exactly what she was talking about, but felt it was obviously just a mistake, something unintentional, something to be forgiven. I’m just appalled, by what she’s done and how she’s dealt with it.

    I thank you not only for pointing out what Kristi has down, but also on how to find out if you’ve been plagiarised and how to deal with it. I’ve really learnt something today. Thanks.

  • Kaethe April 30, 2012, 9:11 AM

    I’m so sorry you’ve been plagiarized and attacked for it. I don’t imagine I’ll ever be in the same position (of course, who does?), but I hope I handle it as well ifaI am.