What The Story Siren Can Teach Us About Blogging
Note: This post was published before The Story Siren’s “Clarification” post.
ETA: As many of the facts were unclear when all of this first came to light, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions or assume the worst. Please read Beautifully Invisible’s post for more insight and information.
As many of you may know, today was an intense day in the blogosphere. Four fashion bloggers posted a few months ago, claiming The Story Siren plagiarized their content. With the distance between these two very different blogging communities, the posts only came to light this morning on Twitter.
Kristi, the blogger behind The Story Siren issued an apology earlier today. I would like to note that Kristi did not actually confirm that she plagiarized the content and omits any details about what allegedly happened.
With only the fashion bloggers’ posts to go by, I think this story is very one-sided. I wish we could hear Kristi’s side of what went down. I feel terrible for Kristi not only because she’s worked so hard to make a name for herself in the book blogging world.
Regardless of what happened with Kristi, I think plagiarism can be a sly thing that a blogger could fall into unknowingly.
Looking at this situation, you may think, “I would never do something like that!” But, the fact is, stuff like this happens all the time. I’m not saying it’s right – it’s awful. However, I don’t think Kristi intentionally lifted those bloggers content…I think she got lazy or uninspired and did something she should have thought more about.
Think about it – when you’re having a slow week on your blog or can’t think of anything original to post about, what do you do? Personally, I look for inspiration. I do a Google news search for “books” or “young adult books.” I try to figure out new angles for my features. And, I open up my Google Reader to see what’s up in the book blogging world.
Here’s where the danger comes in. It’s ok to find out what’s fresh and new in your community, but you have to make it your own. Even if you’re posting something months after you’ve read an article about it, you have to be careful: The Story Siren stated that she plagiarized unintentionally, not realizing how similar her post was to the other bloggers’.
Three Simple Ways to Avoid The Story Siren’s Mistakes:
1. After you’re finished writing your post, google your exact blog title or your key points from your post. If there is something out there VERBATIM or REALLY SIMILAR to your post, consider revising it. How much value are you providing your readers if you have nothing new to say about a topic?
Make a topic your own by talking about your own experience with it or make it specific to your audience. Do some research – find out something new and incorporate into your idea.
2. If you find a post you really like and don’t think you could say it better or differently, link to other content in your post. Don’t simply copy and paste the entire post and include the link – that’s still stealing. But, mentioning the gist of the article and adding a link back is a great way to avoid taking others’ ideas.
3. When reviewing books (and this is a tough one), do your best to write your OWN review first before reading any one else’s. This isn’t always possible because oftentimes we want to read a book because of another bloggers’ review. I think it’s worthwhile to sit back, write your review and ask yourself, “did I make points about this book that no one’s made yet?” If the answer is no, consider revising it.
All of these suggestions are work. They require research and dedication. But consider this, The Story Siren is a huge name in this community and has been blogging since December 2007. Her four and a half years of hard work just got tainted for the foreseeable future by easily-preventable mistakes.
Taking the time to ensure that what you’re saying is original and quality is time well-spent.