Plagiarism Bingo: O - Hatemail

A few of us have been joking about making plagiarism bingo cards so we can check off the predictable responses to any discussion of plagiarism. It is jaw-hang depressing to see the same repeated responses, patterns and excuses, but we really could fill a bingo card at this point.

AnimeJune rounded up a perfect list of responses to the clarification and comments at The Story Siren's page, and I want to focus on this one:

7. Plagiarism is not less wrong than BRINGING UP PLAGIARISM

Clearly, this blogger tried to go the “silent but deadly” route but misjudged the amount of clenching required to pass a bubble of rights-infringing flatulence. But the ones who smelt it are not the ones who dealt it. But tell that to this commenter on the blogger's “Apology” post:

This, dear readers, is what is known as victim blaming. The people who had their CREATIVE CONTENT STOLEN are depicted as being hostile and unreasonable when the plagiarist “gave them what they wanted so they demanded more” – more being the demand to have their rightful creative content, which had been taken without their permission, off the website. What divas!


Worse, this commenter flogs the plagiarist's victims for being so unclassy as to “create drama.” It's bad enough you were so ungrateful as to be angry when a popular blogger stole from you – but you had to make a stink about it, too? Why can't victims just shut up and be quiet? Why do they have to speak up and make us think about bad things when we'd rather be thinking about Hugh Jackman on a unicorn?

B. from Beautifully Invisible forwarded me some of the email she's received since Jane and I started posting about Kristi Diehm's plagiarism at The Story Siren last Monday. The sad irony is that B, Vahni, Jane and I were accused of bullying because we exposed and discussed Kristi's plagiarism. I'm not including the email addresses of the people who sent these messages, because I do not know if they are minors. I do know that they're ignorant.


Name: Kristi's Friend


Message: Dear B, I hope you are proud of yourself for ruining the reputation of one of the nicest people I have ever known. And for what? A few extra hits on your pathetic blog?  

Kristi has done more for the blogging community than anyone I have ever known, and now you and your friend have started a witch hunt that will tarnish that forever. She didn't do anything wrong. Your posts weren't worth stealing. She is a better writer and human being than you could ever hope to be. So back the fuck off and call off the dogs that are out to get her.



B at Beautifully Invisible and Vahni didn't do anything to ruin Kristi Diehm's reputation. Kristi Diehm did that all on her own, by plagiarizing two people who run excellent sites about fashion and their own interests.


Name: Amy G.


Message: Get off your high horse and leave Kristi the fuck alone. She didn't do anything to you so stop making shit up.


Kristi did do something to us. Her behavior made the book blogging community look like a bunch of idiotic hypocrites who holler when we find authors plagiarizing but ask for forgiveness and receive it when one of us commits the same act.

Kristi also plagiarized six entries from two blogs, lied about it, asked to have it hidden, and then only acknowledged the matter when we started talking about it four months later. 


Name: book blogger


Message: You=bitch. Kristi=awesome.


Me = 0_o? 




Message: i know everyone is trying to make u 2 seem like the victims here but its clear that you & gg are just jealous of kristi. shes smart and cute and people look up to her and appreciate her and imm and she works w/tons of authors. you blog abt fashion because you arent smart enough to blog abt something important. get a life. 


Check your scorecards, everyone. Smart and cute trumps dishonest theivery, and book blogging trumps fashion blogging in the rock-paper-scissors of douchebag. 


Name: anon


Message: I think I need to buy you a dictionary because you clearly don't know what plagiarism is. Plagiarism involves original content and what you posted is anything but. Blogging tips? Really? My 5-year old could write those and she would do a better job than you did. So what if Kristi used your posts as a template? THAT ISN'T PLAGIARISM!!! In order for it to be plagiarism your post would have to be UNIQUE and ORIGINAL. You spent what 5 MINUTES? on those. Maybe 10? ANYONE COULD DO IT. Do a google search and you'll see what bullshit this is. Need me to spell it out for you? G-O-O-G-L-E-D-O-T-C-O-M.



I am very concerned for this person. 


Name: Lauren S.


Message:   I just wanna say that you should be ashamed of yourself for doing this to Kristi. She's a sweetheart and you are just a bitch! Why don't you crawl back into the whole you came from and leave her alone? 


I believe the word Lauren is looking for is “hole.” As in, “asshole.”

It sucks to bring up plagiarism, talk about it, discuss what it means and what the consequences are, because then there's hate mail from truly ignorant individuals who, as AnimeJune put it, would rather think about Hugh Jackman on a unicorn that acknowledge that someone they admire has fucked up royally.

This kind of bullshit makes it more intimidating to bring up plagiarism, and if we don't bring plagiarism up, it won't stop. But we also have to discuss the intimidating and haterating that follows any revelation of plagiarism, because those reactions also seem to follow a predictable pattern, and probably do plenty to convince those who have been plagiarized, or who have discovered it, to keep quiet because have mercy, it is not pleasant.

I do not think Kristi Diehm is responsible for the ignorance and poor decision making of anyone who reads her blog and sent hate mail to B and Vahni. I would very much like to believe that those who sent these messages have, at other times of the day, the ability to make rational decisions. They are responsible for their hate mail. This kind of response is not acceptable. It is not ok. I hope these people step on a Lego in the dark, bless their hearts.

I do blame Kristi for not being stronger and more clear in her response, but all of Kristi's edited apologies make the entire thing about her and her hurt feelings, and about hiding the fact that she did exactly what she said not to do in a now-deleted blog post about plagiarism.

I hate that there is plagiarism bingo.

But I hate that there's plagiarism more than I hate playing plagiarism bingo. If we don't talk about plagiarism, it will continue.

To quote Hubby as we were discussing this over lunch: among writers, plagiarism is like treason.

I think he's right about that. It is a betrayal of our work, our effort, and our community. Responses like these make it more intimidating for people to report plagiarism when they find it, and support that betrayal more than they support any friendship. Responses like these also make it seem that within our community, some are very forgiving of, and ignorant about plagiarism, including Kristi Diehm herself.

What more can those of us who understand plagiarism and its consequences do about situations like these?

Keep talking.

Refuse to back down when we're told we're mean and cruel for saying that plagiarism is wrong.

Keep talking and keep talking some more. Otherwise, the theft continues. 



General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Ceilidhann42 says:

    I have no words to describe just how angry and embarrassed all those plagiarism defenders make me feel. There’s a big mentality amongst YA bloggers and the community in general that the most important thing is to Be Nice (in capitals because it was the title of Becca Fitzpatrick’s infamous blog post where she basically laughed about rejecting an author’s request for a cover quote because she’d written a bad review of her work, putting forward the conclusion that criticism of any kind is evil). There’s been this growing disdain towards critical reviews in YA, be they the snarky gif filled ones or the much more analytical ones that Diehm considers too much hard work to do (her words, not mine, check her review policy). The vast majority of YA blogging related kerfuffles of the past year have arisen as part of this mentality and now it’s spilled over from authors to bloggers. Kristi’s nice, that’s usually the first thing people say about her, and it’s her biggest defence against being a lying, thieving hypocrite. Being nice beats thievery apparently. So that’s where all those criminals went wrong. I hate Be Nice.

  2. 2
    Blodeuedd says:

    Omg, what the f is wrong with everyone?

  3. 3

    among writers, plagiarism is like treason

    Yes. This. This +100.

  4. 4
    Bridgetanachronist says:

    I wasn’t aware of the fact that you were attacked for revealing that sad situation. It is really disgusting.

  5. 5

    Many of those who sent the hate mail nullified their own argument by displaying their ignorance in the same email.
    Oddly enough, none of this surprises me. I ran a women’s message board for nearly two years before the cattiness and drama drove me to the brink of insanity. It was all very predictable. Someone would do something stupid then their ‘friends’ would back them up, attacking anyone who dared to stand up and say what they’d done was stupid. Very lynch mentality. I walked out and haven’t looked back.

    Good for you and all the others involved for standing up to Kristi and exposing her. It needed to be done and even if her blind followers blame you, who cares? More blind followers?


  6. 6
    Isobel Carr says:

    So sad to see a YA blogger misleading kids in this manner. Parents and teachers struggle every day to teach kids the difference between right and wrong, having someone they look up to behave so appallingly, is simply tragic.

  7. 7
    anon says:

    Many years ago my SO was teaching Lit at a university.  At the beginning of the term, he explained that anyone who stole the work of others would fail the course.  Despite that warning, someone did and he failed her.  That was the right thing to do and it was agonizing.  As a teacher and writer myself, i agonized with him.  The consequences for the student was to not finish her studies that term.  Not good for her.  The consequences for him was to lose his temporary position because the student was a pet of someone with great political power.  it probably changed the course of our lives.  However, it did demonstrate his integrity and I have seldom been more proud.  Stealing is stealing and the theft of ideas is a v.bad thing.  It is unpleasant to deal with and unpleasant to read about but it must be called out. 

  8. 8
    angel Graham says:

    Google +, Liked and Tweeted. Thank you for being willing to bring up plagiarism and discuss it. It’s hard. Very hard.  Thank you for all you do. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin the barrel for you though. There are a lot of “delicious apples” left in the barrel who adore what you do.

  9. 9

    What frustrates me most is that there *is* a valid discussion to be had about what is and isn’t plagiarism, about the difference between copying someone’s work and being inspired by it, about serendipity and zeitgeist mind-melds vs. copying—and this isn’t it. It isn’t the time for it either, when someone is caught outright lifting material. I get the need to rationalize, because I doubt anyone ever sits down and says, “Gosh, it feels good to be a plagiarizer today.” Which is very much the point and why the victim blaming and hate mail only makes things worse: clearly some people think stealing content and calling it your own is justifiable. It’s not wrong to stand up and say, “Stealing someone else’s stuff and saying it’s yours is bad.” It’s good, and it’s necessary and can be a good point of education.

    I haven’t seen all the discussions on the subject, but what I have seen has been measured and reasonable given the evidence. The hypocrisy quotient isn’t to be overlooked either, of someone speaking out against plagiarism and then committing it.

    Plagiarism is so personal. It’s not stealing my car or my stereo. It’s stealing my words, my voice. Yeah, people get a bit tetchy about it. It hurts in a very personal way, and calling it treason is spot on. I get that the perpetrators are not necessarily kitten-murderers. But they are plagiarizers. And bullying and hate mail is the last resort of the slimy. It’s not supporting a friend. It’s kicking the wounded, and it’s not classy.

  10. 10

    You are doing a beautiful job writing up all these posts on the issue at hand. I think that people need to know about it, not turn it into a witch hunt & burn her at the stake, but truly open their eyes and see that even the top dogs can pull the wool over our eyes.

    As for her allies in this sad situation……how would you have reacted if Kristi had been the one who’s content was being stolen?? I bet me whole stock of Red Bull that you would have busted your pitch-fork out and speared anything that remotely looked like one of her posts.


  11. 11
    Kati Dancy says:

    Wow. Those letters are APPALLING. I guess I’m naive, because although I thought that the victim blaming got out of hand on Kristi’s blog, I never imagined that such vitriol was being directed at the ACTUAL VICTIMS privately.

    This has truly been one of the uglier scandals in the blogosphere. Every day there seems to be a new chapter of hideous.

    God people can be truly nasty. SMH.

  12. 12

    All of this makes me sick. Her followers are obviously childish while the people who aren’t supporting her haven’t been anything anything but respectful when speaking out against her. I understand she has no say in her ‘supporters’ actions but the least she can do is make it clear who’s the victim here. If these people love her so much they will bully others than she has enough influence over to stop them if she made a post about it. She owes who she plagiarized that much! She’s probably condoning their behavior on purpose because she’s enjoying the fact that some (ridiculous) people still love her and ‘supporting’ her and those people’s bullying is just terrible. But I’m speaking out and I will continue to do so! http://thebookbarbies.blogspot…

  13. 13
    Cervenka says:

    As a freelance editor, I have discovered instances of plagiarism with every publisher I’ve worked for. It never fails to amaze me that people think they can get away with it. I have noticed that over the past 10 years, the publisher response has shifted from “can you find a way to work around this” to “stop working on the project” when shown incontrovertible evidence of the theft. (this is one person’s experience, YMMV)

  14. 14
    Mrs. B says:

    These emails are shameful. Wow.

  15. 15
    Elizabeth Houston says:

    Bravo to those who have the courage to expose and continue talking about plagiarism.

    And to those uneducated bullies who mention the definition of plagiarism but don’t bother to open a dictionary, here it is, straight from Merriam-Westers: “Plagiarism: The practice of taking someone else’s WORK or IDEAS and passing them off as one’s own.” (Emphasis added.) And note the informal reference, which makes including the quote NOT plagiarism.

  16. 16
    SonomaLass says:

    In my work with harassment and discrimination, I spent a lot of time explaining to people about the evils of retaliation, i.e., punishing or blaming someone for reporting an incident that needed to be reported. Retaliation is ALSO harassment—it is just as bad, and in some cases worse, than the original offense.  I keep thinking of those experiences when I read the messages and comments blaming the bloggers who were stolen from and those who reported on the theft; these people are just as wrong as the plagiarist, and they deserve to be called out for that.

    Thanks, SB Sarah.

  17. 17
    Barb Lie says:

    Great post, Sarah.  It is sad that people do not understand how wrong plagiarism is.  What about the person (s) who worked long and hard to create an original idea or post, only to have someone take the easy way out, steal it and change a few things to make it look like their own.  How can anyone defend that, and yet blame the victims. Especially when the plagiarist admitted it. 

  18. 18
    SB Sarah says:

    Retaliation harassment is terrifying, I think, more than the actual speaking up part sometimes. If that’s what you work on professionally, you rule. Go on with your bad self.

  19. 19
    Vicki says:

    Just want to say that I appreciate the hard work you put into this site and the way you try to keep us informed, not only about excellent/not-so-excellent books, but also about issues. I am sad that you have to take this sort of abuse for doing it. Hang tough.

  20. 20
    Heather Noto says:

    As an educator who is continuously trying to deal with issues of student plagiarism, it is disheartening to hear that adults who are WRITERS continue to think that everything on the internet is free game.  How can I tell my high school students that cutting and pasting their information from online sites is bad when their favorite authors are doing the same thing online?  What a shame and a poor example that is being set for readers everywhere. 

  21. 21
    Virginiallorca says:

    It just seems like so much trouble. It would be easier to write your own words than searching and copying and taking the risk of being caught. A fellow blogger i read quoted her in her reviewer persona and i felt bad he still respects her,  but I couldn’t bring myself to clue him in.

  22. 22
    Kate Hewitt says:

    The internet, unfortunately, makes plagiarism all too easy. Recently my daughter was doing a history report for school and she just cut and pasted info from online. I told her she had to write it in her own words—so much more work! She was *not* happy but she did it, but she told me that when they are working on reports at school they cut and paste from the internet all the time. I was shocked, and still am, but have come to realise the skill being taught is finding and presenting information, not writing, learning, or thinking. And I doubt the teacher even realises she is encouraging plagiarism. The problem is wide and deep.

  23. 23
    Jessica_HookEm says:

    At my undergrad institution, if you plagiarized or cheated on a test or broke the honor code in any way, shape, or form, you were expelled.  Period.  You could appeal to a council of your peers but the majority of the time professors did not go after innocent students.  They had proof and that proof meant automatic expulsion.  I had at least one professor who had had to have a student expelled for using a ringer on one of her exams.  It may have been a class of 200 but she knew that that was not the student whose name was on the scantron.

    I hate plagiarism.  It’s so unnecessary.  If you don’t have an original thought but you find a quote that puts your thoughts into words, typically more erudite words, then cite the stupid quote.  All it takes is a brief mention and then you’re in the clear.  Most people appreciate the fact that that person brought that idea to their attention and only care about who writes it in a situation like this involving plagiarism.  That’s why on facebook, in the “Quotes” section, you include the source with the quotation.  If you source something simple on facebook then why wouldn’t you source an article used on a blog?

    If Kristi really is sincere in her apologies then she might want to at least disclose to her friends that she screwed up and ask them not to retaliate.  Their emails reflect poorly on her.

  24. 24

    Here’s the thing…There are writers, and indeed a few bloggers, who I admire as personal heroes. So I understand what these idiots are feeling, to a point. If a beloved blogger friend of mine was FALSELY accused, I would defend him/her to the nth degree.

    But the circumstances here are clear. Kristi stole. She betrayed trust. Game over. I don’t care how much you admired her to begin with, she’s a thief who has barely been able to own up to her misdeeds. She deserves no sympathy. She certainly doesn’t deserve a campaign of hate mail and victim blaming in her defense.

  25. 25
    Cate says:

    “If you don’t have an original thought but you find a quote that puts your thoughts into words, typically more erudite words, then cite the stupid quote. All it takes is a brief mention and then you’re in the clear.”

    and this is why it’s so hard to forgive anyone who steals. It’s SO EASY to NOT do it!

  26. 26
    Christina Franke says:

    Wow, your comments have me cracking up. Obviously this is a serious topic, and I am definitely disgusted by the narrow-mindedness of some people. However, I totally admire the humor and strength with which y’all have responded to all of this mess.

    “I believe the word Lauren is looking for is “hole.” As in, “asshole.”“

    Beautiful. Just beautiful. You’d think readers would have better grammar and spelling skills. Apparently not.

    Note: all of the fashion blogs I have read during this debacle have been better written than TSS. This is not to demonize Kristi, but a plain fact.

  27. 27
    Diva says:

    It was Albert Einstein who once said “Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”.

    I have read plenty of books, from Bel Canto to Outlander that made me think DAMN I WISH I HAD WRITTEN THAT but never did it occur to me or to most others to pretend that I had.

    If you want to quote something and elaborate on it, just give credit—-jeez. And allowing a band of merry haters to follow you around saying you’re “cute” and everyone who knows you are a plagiarist is a bully is just very very pathetic.

  28. 28
    Terrie says:

    There is an astonishing amount of ignorance about just what constitutes plagiarism.  I teach writing at a university. If a student had handed in as assignments the articles that Kristi had written (without referencing their original source), then the student would quite likely have failed the papers, quite likely the class, and would also likely wind up sitting in the Office of Student Conduct facing university sanctions.  There would be consequences.  If a student had handed in those blog entries to me WITH citation and I was convinced that the level of plagiarism that occurred was a matter of ignorance rather than conscious theft, I might give the student the opportunity to rewrite the paper from scratch.  If the defenders of Kristi take their ignorance and their attitude with them into college, they will undoubtedly soon find themselves in a pile of very deep doo doo.

    What I see in a lot of discussions is the assumption that since the basic ideas that Kristi lifted aren’t original, then it can’t constitute as plagiarism. That assumption is wrong.  Even a properly cited source MUST be reworked into a completely original form to be legitimate paraphrase. She stole not only idea but structure—and both of those elements constitute plagiarism, at least as far as we deal with it in an academic setting.

    What pleases me is that while there are definitely some bottom feeders in this brouhaha, there are also a lot of bloggers who are writing thoughtful examinations of what is happening.  It’s a wild time, but some real quality is rising to the top.  We can all be grateful for that.

  29. 29
    lori stone says:

    As an observer of this horrible behavior last week I decided to show my support the only way I as a consumer can.  I purchased the entire J.D. Robb blacklist for my Kindle.  Why J.D.Robb? It was a considerable expense and I have all the originals in hardback but Nora Roberts is a notorious victim of plagiarism and it was my small private act of support.  I’m sure Ms. Roberts hardly needs my money but if all of us make an effort to not fund the perpetrators and to continue to support the victims whenever the crime is exposed will go a long way to curtailing this behavior.

    Don’t buy the books of plagiarists. Don’t read the blogs, columns, or commentaries of plagiarists. Don’t buy the music of artists who have copied or stolen the work of others. 

    The last time I heard theft wasn’t “nice” so as a defense it is a real poor one and Ms. Diehm’s defenders are in for a very rude awakening.

  30. 30
    Sandy James says:

    As a teacher, I find the attitude some kids have about plagiarism appalling. They don’t believe it’s a problem, because in their minds, no one is hurt by it. Um…YEAH, THEY ARE. And so are the reputation and character of the person who tries to pass off the hard work of someone else as her own.

    As an author, I think plagiarism is theft. Period. I actually put a plagiarist below an ebook pirate on my list of asshats. At least a pirate leaves the author’s name on her work.

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