Monday Chatter: Why Plagiarizing Reviews is Bad (Because Apparently it Needs to Be Said)

Happy Monday, everyone!

Originally I wasn’t going to write an entire post about this because I don’t like voluntarily courting drama (unless it involves someone coming after a person I care about. Then I start sharpening knives), but the more I thought about it, the more irritated I got. So I’m just gonna get it all out into the open.

I was browsing through my feed early last week and clicked on a Wilder Girls review from a relatively new blogger I’ve been following. At first I thought it to be a really well-written post, and I was nodding along with a lot of their points.

But then I came cross a passage that looked eerily familiar:

wilder-girls2.jpg

See, here’s what I wrote in my Wilder Girls review:

The main characters are a bit of a hit and miss. Power describes the girls’ relationships beautifully, and I really appreciate that she took the time to explore intense friendships and romantic love and the idea that there’s room for both in your life. I also love the fact that all of these characters are allowed to be selfish and mean–not because they’re terrible people but because their circumstances aren’t kind and there’s only so much kindness you can dredge up when it feels like your life is teetering on a knife’s edge. Forever give me all the flawed female characters who aren’t always nice.

 

Huh. Okay. So they took my sentence and reworded it slightly. Kind of sucks, but it’s nothing to lose my head over.

And then came this paragraph:

wilder girls plagiarism3

And here’s my corresponding one:

…And I really wish I can end this review here. I really do.

But I got to talk about that ending.

This is where things go off the rails for me. And I’m trying to purge it from my brain because just thinking about it ruins the experience I had with the rest of the book. From Hetty’s actions and how it wraps things up with the other characters, to the very sudden, very shoddy explanation for the Tox, the ending is the equivalent of strolling along a creek, tripping on a rock, twisting my ankle, and landing face-first into water that’s filled with piranhas–painfully unexpected, makes zero sense (because piranhas in Canada, what?) and puts an abrupt end to what was turning out to be a nice afternoon walk. It tried to go with a scientific route, in which case the explanation should have been doled out in small pieces over the course of the story instead of just dumping it onto your lap at the end. It’s almost as if the author wasn’t sure how to close things off, so she just went with an explanation that’s popular and topical (spoiler: climate change), and it feels so incredibly tacked-on. I’d rather have had no explanation than the ones we got. As for the ending it gives to the characters, it’s one with zero emotional payoff.

Oh boy.

What really gets me is that they took my dumb little scenario of falling into a piranha-infested creek and changed it to crocodiles. It’s just so ridiculously blatant.

So I wrote them a comment, talking about how their plagiarism is kind of hurtful, and could they remove the passages in question, please and thank you. In response, they got rid of the crocodile sentence, left everything else intact, and deleted my comment, all the while holding radio silence.

Which made me feel really fucking great.

I don’t mind people using my reviews as a kind of a guideline for what they should talk about in their own posts. But this? This is straight up copy-pasting. And aside from the obvious “plagiarizing other people’s content is a breach of ethics” issue, it also calls into question the originality of all their past and future reviews.

I guess one could make the argument that ultimately it’s just a book review. But I could also take that sentiment and lob it back, ask why you’d go to the trouble of making someone feel shitty just for the sake of a book review. I don’t think my blog posts are deserving of literary awards (hell, I don’t even like my reviews half the time), but they’re still mine, and I hold a modicum of pride for them.

So I’m not writing this to be all, “How DARE they steal and tarnish this masterpiece.” I’m writing it because most of the time this community is wonderful and supportive, and we as a bloggers do a lot of work for very little, and all we ask from each other in return is at least a semblance of respect. I don’t think that’s that difficult of a bar to reach. And yet.

Your reviews don’t have to be the best (because what does that even mean?) They don’t have to be funny. They don’t have to be inspiring. They just have to be yours.

So. Plagiarism.

Don’t do it.

 

flourish

Well, enough of that. Moving onto more fun things!

 

Etsy Store

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about my plans for selling This is How You Lose the Time War prints, because the authors and a couple of other people have been asking about them (which is incredible and humbling).

And I’m happy to announce that my Etsy store is LIVE and you can order your very own time traveling gay birds!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/714417854/this-is-how-you-lose-the-time-war

il_fullxfull.1972533134_rwb2.jpg

 

 

Books to Read (feat. cover porn)

b1.png

I haven’t had a lot of time for reading this past week, and I’m still chugging away at Crier’s War and The Ventriloquists.

I’ve also started The Ten Thousand Doors of January and All the Bad Apples (about a girl who goes searching for her missing older sister). And so far I’m utterly charmed by the prose of TTTDOI as I am by its cover.

 

70 thoughts on “Monday Chatter: Why Plagiarizing Reviews is Bad (Because Apparently it Needs to Be Said)

  1. Tammy says:

    Oh wow!! I am so annoyed by this plagiarism of a BOOK REVIEW. What? I’ve never heard of that. And whoever it is probably knows you follow their blog and would read that. So sorry Kathy! But congrats on your Etsy store and those gorgeous prints. I hope you sell a ton of them😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      I didn’t know this was a thing either! But apparently it’s happened to some number of people, and that *boggles* my mind. Like, why??? People ARE going to find out.

      And thank you, Tammy!! This is my first time selling art and it’s been super nerve-wracking but also pretty damn exciting. 😀

      Like

  2. meghanplaysgames says:

    This is so sad. Aside from the obvious ethical issue with plagiarizing, kinda confused why any blogger would do this. Presumably if you’re working on a blog, it’s because you enjoy writing, so what’s the point if you’re just going to copy and paste someone else’s work? If you don’t want to write and produce your own content maybe don’t blog…?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      I know, I’m super confused too!! I understand the pressure of wanting to produce good content, and feeling like your work isn’t good enough, but…ultimately we blog because we have a passion for something and want to talk about it with others. I want to read about YOUR thoughts and feelings, not some cobbled together bits of other people’s work.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Justine says:

    Wow, I can’t believe someone actually plagiarized your review. Good on you for somehow holding back and not namedropping! And I love your prints! I’m still deciding how I want them. Together or apart??

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Oh yeah, I was afraid I’d send a bunch of negative comments to the blogger if I namedropped. If they’re going to ignore me, then that’s on them, but I don’t want to blow this up into something really ugly.

      And haha take your time!! There were these two employees at the shop where I printed the first batch, and they were torn on which colour they liked more. 😛

      Like

  4. Manyfandoms4one says:

    People are ridiculous. I can’t believe people would actually plagiarize a review. Like other comments said, if you really don’t like writing to the point that you have to steal other peoples stuff to actually post it are you actually doing something you like??? I definitely agree with the way you’re stating this, its your work, your effort at least have a bit of respect for everything you’re doing and have the decency to not plagiarize. If they liked something you said fine, reference it even quote it and send those reading their review to yours but don’t just steal it and claim its your own….I might have a couple of feelings on this matter.😅

    Liked by 2 people

  5. 24hr.YaBookBlog says:

    I’m really sorry to see this happened to your reviews Kathy 😭 & congrats on your Etsy store, the art is beautiful (also, really looking forward to reading This Is How You Lose The Time War 💞). You bring up such an important discussion, great post! ^_^ 💞

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Emily says:

    I’m honestly confused about the person’s motivations. The whole point of a book review is to write out one’s thoughts. Why would they want someone else’s thoughts?

    I’d be irked about it too, so good for you for calling them out in it and shame on them for trying to hide their actions. I hope they see this post you made and learn something from it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Yeah, it definitely goes in the “Things people do that make zero sense” box. I’d at least understand if they were on some kind of deadline (maybe for like a blog tour). But they weren’t, and they had PLENTY of time to think it over and revise and refine. So this is just baffling.

      Like

  7. Jess @ Jessticulates says:

    That’s so crazy, I’m sorry this happened to you! I can completely understand two reviewers saying very similar things if they felt very similar things about a book, but that is blatant plagiarism – and the fact they deleted one sentence and stayed completely silent? We all make mistakes and it’s easy to feel embarrassed when we’re called out on them, but doing nothing is just going to make it worse and definitely wouldn’t make me feel like they’re a blogger I can trust.

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying The Ten Thousand Doors of January! I read Alix E. Harrow’s Hugo-winning short story over the weekend and loved it, so I’m really excited to pick up her debut novel. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Mhm. And accidental plagiarism happens! We read so many reviews and they get all get jumbled up in our brains, so we might use a phrase that someone wrote in their review. That’s totally understandable. But this….isn’t that, and it would have been great if they’d said something–anything–back to me.

      And omg, Alix’s short story was SO GOOD and I’m so happy it won! Hope you love Ten Thousand Doors just as much! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  8. acquadimore says:

    This is probably the worst aspect book blogging. It has happened to me too, last year, and the reaction was pretty much the same. I don’t understand why this kind of people do this, why they think taking someone else’s review and making it worse by changing some words here and there somehow isn’t plagiarism and is completely acceptable. And that no one will ever notice them.
    (Also, I find the implication that freshwater crocodiles don’t exist really funny, but what can we expect from a plagiarist)

    Apart from this ugly – I’m glad to hear that about The Ten Thousand Doors of January, it will probably be one of my next reads.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Uggghhh I’m sorry to hear that, Acqua. Seriously, WHY is this a thing in book blogging?? And the thing is they followed me first, and I ended up following back, so they *knew* there was a good chance I’d see the review. So I’m not sure if they don’t think this is plagiarism (somehow??), or they know it and didn’t care about me finding out? I can’t tell which is worse.

      And haha that crocodile bit annoyed me. 😂 If you’re going to plagiarize, at least change the original content into something better, not worse.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. The Reading Hobbit says:

    Aw man that sucks. What a s**thead. What an awful thing to do, but also it seems so.. odd? To plagiarize a book review, then put it on your blog which is supposedly for fun? To what end? It’s so weird. Still sorry it happened to you 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Off The TBR says:

    Ugh!! All of us who review books know we run into those reviews where our brain freezes up and we can’t figure out the best way to get our thoughts across. It isn’t always easy writing a review even if you keep it simple. But plagiarism is wrong no matter which way you cut it. Either give credit or don’t use it. Sorry for this.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Thanks, Jason! Oh, I can’t count the number of reviews I blanked out on. Sometimes our brain just doesn’t want to cooperate. And I would have been okay if they came right out and told me that and apologized. The fact that they more or less ignored my comment and shoved me to the side is what I find frustrating.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Marie says:

    Oh god I’m so sorry this happened to your review, Kathy, this is so, so frustrating and just doesn’t make any sense, either, I’ll never understand WHY people do this. I’m so sorry this happened! 😦
    On the bright side, you’re reading some gorgeous-looking book, so yay! I’m so intrigued by the thousand doors, I’m happy you’re enjoying it so far! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Red Metal says:

    I can imagine that was extremely annoying. It makes me wonder why this person didn’t simply reblog your post if they wanted to share it that badly because that is an option. Also sounds like they can’t take criticism, but that’s a trait all plagiarists have.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. evelynreads1 says:

    Whuttt.. why would you do that..
    I sometimes look at other people’s review if I struggle to write mine just to see the points they mention. But then I would write my own thoughts about..

    Liked by 2 people

  14. sjhigbee says:

    Urg! You are very nice – if I’d discovered that someone had hi-jacked my cool metaphors in such a lazy, blatent way and then been so disrespectful regarding my protestations – they would have been named and shamed in this article. And I’m disgusted and very disappointed – this is mostly a delightful community with lovely, intelligent people who are united over a sincere love of books.

    If someone cannot think of such zingy, cool phrases, then they need to put their opinions honestly and plainly – and if remotely tempted to nick other people’s efforts, then quietly pack up the blog and go and do something else. Because book blogging is clearly beyond their capability.

    Moving on – those birds are a delight – huge congratulations:)).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to namedrop, but I was more afraid of what that might result. And I really didn’t want send a horde of negative comments toward the blogger. That would have made me feel worse, I think. But yes, I was definitely annoyed and confused as to why any book blogger would do this. If you’re not writing reviews because you enjoy writing (at least to some extent) and sharing your thoughts with other bookworms, then why write reviews in the first place?

      (Also! I’m glad to hear you thought the metaphors were cool :D)

      Liked by 1 person

      • sjhigbee says:

        Exactly! I was more than a tad gobsmacked by the whole episode – what’s the point of writing an article of YOUR OWN OPINIONS about a book – and then snitch someone else’s opinions to write it???

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Sarah says:

    UGH. I think I read that review. And you know what’s funny, I think I remember saying to myself, did someone post this twice? Because I swear I’ve read it already. That’s BS.

    What is even the point of blogging if you are not going to actually write the review.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      LOL you’re the third person to tell me that they recognize the review! It was so weird reading it and being like, “Wait, why is this so familiar??” And I have no idea why anyone would do this, either. Like, we’re not getting paid for this. We do this because we want to share our thoughts about the books that we read. It’s just so bizarre.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah says:

        Super bizarre. The only thing I can think is they didn’t actually read the book and hacked together a plagiarized review from you and others to get it out.

        I know that still seems silly (is worse than silly) but if they went overboard requesting galleys or something maybe they felt they needed to get a review up ASAP?

        I don’t know. I just don’t get it. If you don’t enjoy reviewing why blog? Or post reviews at all. It might be a little weird but there are enough topics a creative person could totally blog without doing full reviews.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

        Yeah, that’s a possibility! It’s at least a better reason than “*shrug* I did it because, eh, why not?” And feeling like you’re on a deadline and panicking is something I can kind of empathize with? (Though still shitty)

        I think we can discuss this for the rest of the year and still not understand why any blogger would do this. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Ola G says:

    Oh, that’s awful. You’re totally right, and even if your review was sloppy and badly written (which it absolutely wasn’t, cause I read it and loved it!) it wouldn’t mean someone can hijack it and try to hide the fact in changing a few words here and there! I’m really sorry it happened to you.
    The birds are great! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Nicole Evans says:

    Kathy, I am so sorry this happened to you!! And that they weren’t even willing to take it down or fix what they did, after you kindly confronted them about it? That is very unfair, you have every right to be upset about it and I’m really sorry you had to go through that, because that is just a shit feeling to have to deal with. :/

    BUT YAY FOR YOUR ETSY STORE. I can’t wait to check out what you add to it as you do!

    Like

  18. luxandromeda says:

    Ohhh nooo I’m so sorry Kathy ): You have every right to be hurt and disappointed by this person–when someone takes your own words away from you, it feels incredibly…invasive, I think is the word I’m looking for. It’s that eerie feeling of someone else pretending to be something that they are not, at your expense. That’s not okay, and I’m so glad that you stood up for yourself because you deserve credit for your creative work! I love the reviews that you write.

    YAY I can’t wait to comb through this Etsy store with my next paycheck!!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

    Wow … I can’t even believe this needs to be said. Like … duh? And the fact that another blogger would do this is even more hurtful, because you would think they would realize how much work and heart goes into it. I’m sorry this happened to you.

    I understand that it’s tough to find your voice or niche as a new blogger. Heck, I struggled horribly when I first started trying to decide what I wanted my reviews to be, and I tried to emulate the bloggers I really enjoyed. In the end, I found my own voice and what I was comfortable with, but that takes time. And that doesn’t mean you can blatantly copy someone else in the meantime.

    I LOVE the birds! They’re gorgeous.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      YUP, I totally understand that pressure of finding your blogging voice and maintaining it across all your posts (I mean, I still don’t know if I have a consistent voice of my own). But I think half the fun of writing blog posts is experimenting with styles and finding out what works for you and what doesn’t. Sure it might end up being messy and all that, but it’ll still be YOU, and I think people are more drawn to authenticity than any kind of fancy writing style.

      And ahhhh thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sammie @ The Writerly Way says:

        Honestly, I think people almost appreciate the messiness more than something concrete and … essayish? I mean, there are certainly people who do prefer that, so I’m not saying there’s not a place for it. But a lot of people are looking for something with a little personality and not just a straight-up presentation of facts, and messiness is real and honest and relatable. I love posts where you can tell the author just enjoyed writing it. :3

        Like

  20. PerfectlyTolerable says:

    Mimicry is the greatest form of flattery? I know it really sucks that they are stealing your work but at least that means it is really good? Haha alright I will stop trying to find the silver lining! This is messed up! I’m so sorry it happened to you!

    I would be okay if someone took my work if they put it in quotes and said something along the lines of “I couldn’t figure out how to say it, but so-and-so said it really well! Here is part of their review: ” and then linked back to the original review!! They should have done that instead of that sneaky behind the back trying to make it theirs BS! I’m so sorry! Is there a way you can report them?

    Like

  21. Margaret @ Weird Zeal says:

    Ugh this is awful, I’m so sorry this happened to you! 😡 I completely understand your frustration over this, because it might “just” be a book review, but it’s something that you put time and effort and thought into. It’s not just plagiarizing your words, it’s plagiarizing your feelings and opinions, which is just gross.

    But in other news, your art looks amazing and congrats on starting an Etsy store! 💃

    Like

  22. @lynnsbooks says:

    Oh no! I’d like to say I’d never heard of this happening but unfortunately i have! It’s the thing that really scares me when I’m writing my own reviews – hoping that I haven’t subconsciously picked something up when reading other people’s thoughts – but this is so blatant – it’s part of the reason that `I now say I’ll return and read someone’s reviews if I haven’t yet posted mine – that fear. I just can’t understand why you would literally cut and paste this though – unwittingly using certain words is one thing, but surely you want to use your own thoughts and feelings. What the heck.
    Anway.
    Love your art – good luck with your sales.
    Lynn 😀

    Like

  23. waytoofantasy says:

    Ugh, that’s so blatant. I mean, sometimes we have similar thoughts on things and there’s only so many words but the way everything is stated it’s so obvious they copied your review and just switched up the vocab. Like, how do they think they can get away with that? UGH. I’m so angry on your behalf.
    Maybe they were trying to keep up with posting and fell behind and this is the result but either way, it’s just not right. Don’t steal from others. I’m really upset this happened to you.

    On a more positive note, definitely going to stop by your Etsy shop now that I got paid. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky says:

      Aw no, Lisa! You don’t have to be angry for me! It’s a sucky thing that happened, but I’m pretty much over it already. I think we have enough stresses in our lives without lingering on this one stupid incident.

      And I think I would kind of empathize if they came out and told me they copied the review because they were trying to keep up with a posting schedule. Like, it’d be a better reason than “Eh, I just did it because I could.”

      And I shipped your birdies during the weekend, so hopefully they’ll be there soon!! Ahhh I’m nervous–I hope you love them. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  24. Gigi says:

    Oh no! I’m sorry this happened to you! Especially when you put a lot of thought, time and effort. I mean sure, some of us feel exactly the same after reading a book, but to copy it and pass it off as your own review?!! WTF? Ugh..some people! It’s as awful as taking someone’s IG photo and using it as their own! I’ve seen this happen as well. I hope it doesn’t happen again 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Meeghan reads says:

    Oh Kathy this is awful!! And after you approached them they just deleted your comment, and gave you radio silence. That’s the worst part. I’d be so happy to go on a rant on their post if you’d like. We don’t do these kinds of things in the book community – that’s not how we roll. Also, the other comments on their post are all “what a lovely review”. Makes me want to vomit (and then message all the commenters on your behalf)!
    Sending all the hugs to you x

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Diana @fortunatelythebook says:

    I’m really sorry it had happened to you, it’s just so sad! On my Italian blog it happened one time, a couple of years ago, with a quote I specifically write (I had to reduce it, in the book wasn’t write like that) in one review. Another blogger used it to win a competition. I had to use a tool to block the copy+paste on my blog.
    I’m sending you a hug! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s