Armchair BEA: Ethics.


Photo Credit: Nina of Nina Reads
We're getting back into discussion mode in a big way today with the topic of "Ethics in Blogging." What guidelines must we follow as bloggers--attribution, disclosure, honesty? Have you had an experience with plagiarism (victim or perpetrator?), and how did you deal with it? Do you have recommendations to new bloggers about how to ensure that credit is given to whom/where it's due?

Plagiarism is a difficult subject, because I think sometimes we might do it without really knowing it. Yes, most of the times it’s done with knowledge and I don’t have anything good to say about those people, but I think we can be influenced without realizing it.

To make sure that you don’t fall in those traps:-Whenever you post a picture, always link back to the owner. Even better: ask permission from the maker. Try looking for website with free stock pictures/pictures for free commercial use. Can someone help me out: if I want to post a picture from 9gag, can I use this without problems? Because it’s so hard to find the maker.
-Don’t read reviews for the book you are currently reviewing. It’s okay to read them after reviewing or long time before, but it’s easy to get influenced by someone's use of words or sentences. You might not realize that you are using similar words, but it’s still plagiarism. It’s okay to quote them as long as you link back to the original review.
-If you come up with something after seeing it on another blog: link back! Tell them you are inspired by X blogger and you could always contact the blogger about your idea.

-If you are part of a meme, link back to the creators of the meme and the header.
It’s NOT okay to steal ideas.
It’s NOT good to use someone’s words and reviews. You are blogging because it’s fun. Using someone’s opinion is pathetic and it makes me wonder why you started your blog in the first place.

I’ve never had to deal with plagiarism (so far, I believe) and I hope I don’t have to go through it ever. It must feel horrible to know that someone else is using your stuff!
Other ethics you should keep in mind:-You should never expect to receive review books. You aren’t blogging for the free books and the ARC’s. I’ve seen someone complaining about a certain publisher who stated that they weren’t sending ARC’s to bloggers; don’t be so arrogant.

-Selling/buying ARC’s is forbidden. I’m a bit torn on the whole ARC-lending, but selling is definitely a no-go!
-Be kind to your followers. Give them comment love back and reply to them on your blog. I know that it can cost quite some time, but they invested time in your blog too.
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22 comments

  1. I am the same about reading reviews on a book I'm reading or going to read. Sometimes it can influence how I feel about the book and might sway my opinion which I don't really want because I want to start the book fresh and with an open mind. But it is easy to use similar words in your reviews subconsciously though.

    UGH yes on the receiving review books! I am so frustrated at seeing bloggers who solely blog for review copies and feel like they deserve review copies. No, this is not the attitude you should have!

    You brought up some great points Mel :)

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    1. I hate it when I see someone is in the blogging business for free books: they aren't free and it's never a good thing if you except to receive them. You need to deserve them.

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  2. I really try to avoid reading reviews on books I'm reading, because that can make it scarily easy for a bit of plagiarism to slip in without you realizing it yourself!
    The whole plagiarism fiasco a year ago was just BAD and I'm glad there hasn't been blogger drama the last couple of months!
    And yes to the attitude about ARCs! Sometimes I get iffy because some publishers keep denying my requests, but hey, I can always buy the book, so that doesn't really last :)

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    1. I hope it will stay this way. I'm very happy with the drama-free bloggingsphere.

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  3. I do the same thing about reading reviews on something I have in my TBR pile. Figure it's better to err on the side of caution than subconsciously use someone else's phrasing or ideas. As for passing along ARCs, I do that sometimes via contests (with permission of course). But as they say right on the cover that the book is not for sale, I think selling them is just wrong!

    Great post!

    Alexia's Books and Such...

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  4. I love your last advice about giving other bloggers some comment love. That's a great positive addition to this ethics discussion!

    I personally find it hard to avoid all reviews before writing my own. Of course I read review to help decide IF I want to read a book; that's what they're for! It's definitely a good idea to avoid reviews for a book that I am currently actually reviewing myself, however.

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    1. I like to read reviews to decide whether I want to read it or not, but I'm always careful when I'm reading the book at that moment.

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  5. I do flick through reviews beforehand to see ratings so I know what I'm getting into but recently read a review and in the first line a major part of the plot was spoiled, so I was quite sad about that. I think lending ARCs is okay once the book is released but I wouldn't feel comfortable giving it someone if they didn't review or if the book had not been released yet. :)

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    1. Oh no! I hate it when they spoiler without warning :(

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  6. You've made some interesting and valid points, Mel. I completely agree with what you said about commenting. I've seen people complaining about how they don't get any comments on their posts. How can you expect comments when you don't comment (and I mean meaningful comments) on other blogs, right? Great post. :)

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    1. Yep, you need to invest before you receive comments back.

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  7. If a picture is an internet meme (from 4chan, 9gag,etc.), my approach is to say somewhere in the post that I don't own any of the images, but that due to their nature of origin, it is impossible to ascertain the creator. I ran into that problem when I did a series of "Literary Lolcats" posts. :)

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  8. I agree with you about staying away from reviews of a book that you're currently reading/reviewing. Not only because you may subconsciously word something VERY similar to how that person worded it, but you don't want that to sway your opinion of the book. The reading of a book should be YOUR experience, not half your experience and half another person's.

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  9. I agree with all! And if you feel such pressure to steal someone else's reviews in order to get ARCs you don't even have time to read, to me that's ridiculous.

    I never read reviews if I'm going to be reviewing the book in close proximity. Unless it's a blogger I know who has a totally different voice than mine. But even then I don't like to as I worry I'll adopt their opinion. If they liked something I might. Or if they didn't, something I might have liked I might no longer like. It's just too risky.

    I agree about the commenting back. Though I have been terrible about doing so as of late. I used to spend 4 hours a night responding to comments. I'm a very slow commentator. But it is so important to interact with those who stop by and leave a comment. Especially if you don't head over to their blog to share your thoughts on their posts.

    I hope you're having a great time at Armchair BEA this year! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on blogger ethics.

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    1. I don't think it's about how fast you react: as long as you try and give your followers the idea that you read their comments.

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  10. Great points! Although sometimes I do read reviews of books that I'm reading. Sometimes, I read them AFTER I read the book just to see if anyone had the same thoughts/feelings as I did. :)

    Man, I need to get back to visiting and commenting on other blogs more. I used to just sit and browse through all the blogs of bloggers I follow or follow me. These days I can't find the time to do anything.

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    1. I always try to read them after I finish my review. I've noticed one time that I felt influenced by the rating - I was wondering if I gave a good rating. That's not something I want to do.

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  11. I have never ever plagiarised someone else's stuff. I think. And I haven't had it done to me either :) But yeah. It sounds pretty awful :\ Thank you for sharing sweetie. <3

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  12. I've always been nervous about the picture thing so I steer clear of those. I should check out a free site sometime though. Great tips! :)

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Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I really appreciate it and I will return the favor as soon as possible.