Armchair BEA: Blogging Ethics (And How I Fell Into Plagarism)

Hey everyone,

So for the Blogging Ethics Armchair BEA post I wanted to be a bit different and brutally honest. This will probably hit my rep pretty hard, as well as make me lose some followers and so on but it has to be said. A lot of people are talking about what should and should not be done and it really isn’t as cut and dry as a lot of people think. It’s really hard to make sure you don’t cross that line and you’ve got to be careful. Ok so here it goes (even as I write this, my stomach hurts): I have plagiarized in the past. I wanted to write, I was an accidental plagiarist, but the truth is, to write accidental gives all plagiarist’s (on the scale from baby plagiarism to full on ripping the hell off) a ‘free from jail’ card that shouldn’t be given. So here me out first.

I had just started blogging and I was clueless as to what to do. I had a number ofย  blogs I found inspiring and interesting so I studied their blogs, their marketing mechanisms and so on a lot. I grew up with an art, anthropology and marketing background, and what those fields don’t do is tell you about the line and abyss that is plagiarism. In drawing inspiration from these blogs I didn’t realise that I was crossing the line or letting myself cross the plagiarism line. Things like being honest in reviews were obvious to me. Things like stating where you get money from or are an affiliate was obvious to me. Copying and pasting? Hell no! It’s that grey area that will kick you in the bad areas.

No I didn’t lift or copy and paste reviews or paragraphs or what not. I did no stealing of words (and at the time, I thought that was all plagiarism was!), so I thought, I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

But I did do some things wrong. What was I guilty of?

  1. Drawing influence from one of their posts for my post topic and not giving them credit.
  2. Drawing influence from their tone and mimicking it.
  3. Creeping in on their social media sphere and being plain creepy.

I’ve spoken to a lot of friends and some don’t see that as plagiarism but I hurt the person and I was fortunate that they didn’t raise a public fuss. Looking back at it, my biggest offense was drawing influence on a post on Book Snobbery and coming out with my own a week later. The words were different, the content was completely different but they came out with the post first and I should have given them credit for it. Simply put. I shouldn’t have also been so creep=tastic and tried to weasel in on their social media domain. I wasย  a newbie, didn’t know what I was doing and there this person was! I should have left the distance that was there. I should have respected them more. Simply put.

Now I am extremely careful about content/tone posts and when I’m writing reviews or anything for that matter, I make sure I have no blogs open and write what I want. Why did I research other blogs so heavily? To be honest it was because I had no confidence in my writing or myself. I was caught up in the popularity of it all. Now? I don’t want to be some blogging rockstar, now I do this because I genuinely enjoy it. I also don’t go to this person’s website anymore. I went so far that I even blocked it from my firefox. I also blocked all of their social media outlets because if something happened again at least I can now say, look this time it wasn’t me.

I am grateful for that person for calling me out on my shit in a very good way. After the incident I scrubbed my blog completely. Deleted everything that had a grey area and put myself on a firm ‘blog diet’ if you would. I only wrote about stuff I wanted. Yeah, I read other blogs and comment and so on but now if I start anything or write anything, I make sure that it is coming from me or if it isn’t, I give the person their due credit. I could be better on the picture stuff, and I’m trying to learn about image copyright so I don’t find myself in a bind. Ignorance in the blogging world is not bliss. I was ignorant and I paid for it with stupidity.

I get that there is a lot of pressure in the book blogging world. There is a lot of us and sometimes it feels like you’ve got to be the bestest, most friendliest, best-grammar-writing-whiz, best-reviewer, hardest reader, fastest-twitter-social-media person out there so god, for the love of all things bookish and holy, stay the hell away from it and blog because you want too.

Yeah, so that’s it. It feels weird saying all that but it needed to be said.

If I’ve lost some friends, I’m very sorry.



About Claire (BWB)

It's Claire (aka Quirky) from Bitches With Books, an online book blog that serves up a healthy dose of book reviews, lists + literary madness.
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11 Responses to Armchair BEA: Blogging Ethics (And How I Fell Into Plagarism)

  1. I love this post for its honesty. Even with my blog being almost 8 years old, I still have blogger insecurities. I think every good blogger does because we put so much of ourselves into our work. Thank you for being real about it.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. It’ll be a great help to newbie and veteran bloggers alike.

  3. Tara says:

    Honesty = more friend, in my opinion. Thank you for telling the truth, correcting the issue, and (most importantly) continuing to blog. Mad respect. Fist bump.

  4. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader says:

    This is a great post and I commend you on your honesty. You made a mistake. You fixed it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      Thanks for being so open! I’m awed by how well this post was received. I got 1 nasty email but that’s part of it. I made a mistake and by god I learned from it! โค

  5. Grace says:

    This is a fantastic post! I love that you’re so honest–mad respect. Plagiarism and intellectual property are such sticky subjects, and it’s so easy to unconsciously borrow ideas from other people.

  6. bookshy says:

    Love the honesty in this post. And I totally get what you mean about not having any confidence in writing or in yourself as I felt exactly the same when I first started blogging. I still do sometimes if i’m being honest, especially when it comes to reviews. But like you said I just decided to write what I found interesting and doing that made me worry less about what others might think about my stuff.

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