Tuesday, February 05, 2013

On My Mind (5): Bad Behavior, Bad Behavior Everywhere

On My Mind is simple. A rambling discussion post, which may or may not be intelligible. It could be long to the point that you'd be sick of my thoughts (hopefully not), or as short as a few paragraphs. The entire point? To get my thoughts out there, and perhaps generate an discussion/debate/argument in the comments section. Read it, and enjoy.
It's only February and already there's a huge blowup of just awful behavior everywhere. What I hate saying is that this is all worse than those immature arguments that third-grade children have on the playground. These are adults, or at the very least teenagers who should know better. Frankly, this should not be happening.

This post will have a run-down of the terrible behavior in the last little while, and my extreme outrage at what has happened.

Up-To-Date Reviewing and the Plagiarism Spree
Yes, literally, it was a fricken plagiarism spree. Meaning that there was more than one plagiarized review, from multiple other reviewers. I only knew of this through Annabelle from Sparkles and Lightning, whom I've grown to admire in the past few months. She has at least one wonderful post I look forward to every single day, but one day my email that I put in a subscription for her blog posts had only a quick post, stating that she wanted to post something later on, but didn't want her post on plagiarism to be ignored.

Later on, I had her post in my inbox, Plagiarism Sucks: It's More Than Just Drama.

Annabelle would never have known about this if not for the wonder of Twitter, and a fellow blogger who had nothing to do with this incident. A tweet was sent promoting a review for a blog tour. The plagiarizer probably would've gotten away scot-free. What was more devastating was that Annabelle was not the only victim. That review was composed of pieces of numerous reviewers' posts put together.

Following that news was the breakdown of an email sent back to Annabelle after the owner of the blog (not the plagiarist) was confronted about this problem. Great. The blogger had received the email, had enough sense to recognize this problem and know that it must be addressed.

Problem? The first email was a nicely done non-apology. Although in later emails, she does say her apologies for the hurt her blog caused, but the bits in the email, like blowing kisses and the such, are meant for friendlier times. This is a time for saying sorry and admitting your wrongdoings.

But what were the email replies? Unprofessional. (Don't say "LOL" in an email regarding this kind of situation. Just don't. And the grammar might just be worse than mine. You can't present yourself in an immature light; it'll just make yourself look worse.) Full of ego. (Continually calling yourself awesome does not make us think you're awesome in any way.) Flighty. (I don't even know an adjective for this. Hell, the first email consisted of almost nothing relevant to the topic on hand.)

Words are not the only thing that could be plagiarized
Evie is one of my favourite bloggers. Friendly. Generous. Welcoming. But she is not the only victim in this scenario. In her post When being nice comes back to kick your but . . . was posted, I was just stunned. It wasn't just Sparkles and Lightning that got stolen from. Rachel from Fikshun was also a victim, and Evie was unknowingly dragged into the mix.

Rachel posted on her rambling blog, The Annex, When Staying Silent Isn't The Answer, stating how she came across a blog using her own graphics and blockquotes. Obviously she was upset. And because that blogger seemed to lack the skill for the coding, the finger seemed to point towards her designer.

Evie from Bookish had nothing to do with the stolen graphics. She was only a friend offering another a free blog design. Sadly, that friend seemed to either actually have to skill to do steal the graphics or know someone else with the ability to, and Evie was pulled into this mess. An excellent, yet painful example of how plagiarism could hurt more than the person stolen from. Since Evie only started her blog designing business very recently, this event may just have had taken a toll on her reputation.

What's worse? Rachel tried to alert the blogger without directly confronting her. I mean, how uncomfortable would it be to have to tell a fellow blogger you're on friendly terms for years that they stole something from you? By making it obvious that the blockquote graphics were stolen, she hoped that the blogger would get the hint and take it down. But guess what? Didn't happen. The blogger merely moved some things around the blockquote to hide the message.

Afterwards, the blogger in question did reach out and apologize, saying that she had found the images through Google, and that this was not done with intent to harm. But the facts didn't hold up in her favour, as the bottom half of Rachel's post would explain. Lesson? Same as the last one. Don't steal. Don't cover it up.

Oh noes! Did I do it? But can't I just cover it up? I mean, not everyone's perfect, don't you know?
Giselle at Xpresso Reads is one of my go-to bloggers for figuring out what books I should and should not read. I often participate in events via the tour site she runs, Xpresso Book Tours. She is no exception to the recent plagiarism breakout.

In her post Plagiarism: The Saga Continues! Giselle states her own experience with plagiarism. Long story short, a friend comes across a review suspiciously like her own and speaks to her about it. Giselle emails the blogger. The blogger says that it couldn't have been her and calls her a bully. The blogger says she reworded the review as a courtesy to a fellow blogger. I think there's some serious BS going on.

But the story doesn't end there. On Twitter Giselle is sent a malicious tweet that sets off a series of others. Guess who the tweeter is? The blogger's mother. Honestly, I'm all for parents defending their young, but the young shouldn't be defended if what he or she did is obviously wrong. Just because someone's your child does not give them a free pass if they screw up. If I did anything like this, I'd have my internet access revoked indefinitely and be grounded till I'm old enough to retire, with my mother trying to navigate the computer which is a foreign machine to her in order to express her infinite apologies.

Other Relevant Posts:
Parajunkee's Plagiarism. How should we react? - What to do if you ever plagiarize or are plagiarized from
Beautifully Invisible's A Year Later: How Being Plagiarized Caused Me To Lose My Voice - The heartbreaking post from TSS's victim a year after

But hey, it's not just plagiarism that's bad . . .
Today, or rather, late last night I came across one of Parajunkee's tweets regarding authors behaving badly linking to a post called I Will Not Be Bullied - Blacklist Author Mike Kearby from Lizzy's Dark Fiction.

Lizzy put up a post in late January of all the DNFs she had in 2012, explaining why for one reason or another that she didn't like a particular book. One of the authors didn't take it well. (Note: Lizzy did make a mistake in accidentally saying that there weren't many reviews for the blog tour she got the book on, but it was a mistake. The author called her out on it. Lizzy owned up, apologized, and took the sentences down.)

Some words that started grating on my nerves from the author
But remember You are dealing with people's lives and how they make a living. You should always be respectful of that. it isn't a game or a joke to those of us that write.
And some words from Lizzy
I review books not authors.
(You have to go through to Lizzy's blog to see the full conversation. I cropped a ton of the words out because I wanted to focus on those lines.)

What the author said was out of line. Yes, she wrote a critical review. Yes, it may affect your sales. Yes, it may affect the way you make ends meet. But she is in no way making a joke out of it. Do you think she wants to post a false review for her own readers to be more inclined to buy a book that is not enjoyable?

Bloggers are usually not professionals. We read, review, blog, live, promote books because we enjoy it. We do not receive compensation for helping you promote your book. We are not machines to churn out perfect reviews. Though we may say we'd die without books, it is not literal. We are not all sitting on your doorstep begging for the chance to read your book. You, yes you, are supposed to ask if we're willing to review your book. This is a hobby, not a job. Yes, we may have some control over your lives, but how much control does a single reviewer have on your sales, even if he or she is very well known? You wouldn't go up to your boss and tell him to not fire you even though you're not good at your job because you need that job to make a living.

Lizzy did not like your book not because she didn't like you, she just didn't like your book. Hell, I've met some amazing authors through the internet and ended up hating their books. Or we could be like Hazel Grace Lancaster of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, loving a book but find out later on that the author's a total asshat. We keep authors and books separate.

Another thing that touched a nerve. The author later posted on his blog his own post about Lizzy, and some personal attacks against her.
But here's the most bothersome part, Lizzy used some revealing terminology in her review. Specifically that the book's author should have spent more time in transitioning and worldbuilding.

Why is that bothersome? Most reviewers: professional or not, do not use writing terms as part of their review. The fact that Lizzy did or does shows that she has taken an on-line course in writing or perhaps read a book on writing. Either way, using writing terms in a review provides a clue that Lizzy might be more frustreated writer than reviewer.
My only response. Dafuq? Yes, she used some writing terminology. And you being an author and her a blogger/reviewer does not lend you any right to forbid her from using those terms in her reviews. It also doesn't mean she has taken a course on writing or read a book on it. Hell, I learned them in Grade 8 English and have heard them used before that. I was twelve. If twelve-year-olds know this, it's not really something that could be learned through only a writing course. And it certainly doesn't give you a right to call her a frustrated writer.

Also, about the part that most reviewers don't use the terms. Just want to point out a bit of personal thoughts. I like reviews that use professional terminology. I trust them more. They seem to be more knowledgeable in the field. Heck, if a professional reviewer didn't use the terminology, I probably would stop reading their reviews. I myself make an effort to make use of these terms as much as possible.

Later in the post, Lizzy writes, as she calls it, "from one 'pseudo reviewer' to another", to not review or host Mike Kearby on your blog. Even if she hadn't said that, I think the message is pretty clear. Make an accident in your review, and this author will not cease to bully you.

My conclusion?

In the end, who gets hurt by all this? Everyone.

The victim. The victim's friends. The whoever sees the victim's post and feels just so awful, and may decide to forgo their goal of becoming a successful blogger in order to just avoid the drama. It hurts the reputation and integrity of whoever had done the victimizing. Nothing good comes out of this.

You know what the best solution is? Common sense and respect.

After the huge TSS scandal last year, it's hard to believe that someone would steal another's content. And it's quite obvious that stealing is not the right thing to do. Common sense is knowing that stealing is wrong. Respect another's original work and the efforts they put into this.

Of course, the author-blogger attacks goes both ways, but it's still not something to condone. It is wrong either way. Elementary grade children are constantly taught that bullying is wrong, so shouldn't adults know as well? Common sense is not attacking another for writing a bad review or a book you don't like. Respect is acknowledging the time and energy put into creating the book and generating a review.

I'm ashamed of what is happening throughout this community. I am upset. But really, can't we all just learn to live like one, big, happy family?

But every time something in the bookish community is down, I remember another blogger's encouragement, an author's thank you, and remember all the amazing things about this. My friends, let's keep it just as amazing from here forward.
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