On Plagiarizing Reviews…

» 4 January, 2016 » Reviews » 41 comments

A couple of days ago, a blogger friend of mine sent a screenshot of two reviews sent by a friend of hers, who is also a blogger. The first screenshot shows a review for Ella Fox’s All That’s Left to Hold Onto and the next shows the same review by another reviewer. What is perplexing though is that the second review was an exact replica of the review posted by her friend.

Our first reaction was shock. Yes, we’ve heard of bloggers copying other other bloggers before but that doesn’t negate the feelings of disgust we felt at the blatant way this person is copying someone else’ review and passing it off as her own.

But that’s not where the story ended. Curious, we started looking into this person’s other reviews, and what we found was a treasure trove of plagiarized reviews after another.  Almost all of her reviews, especially reviews on popular books, are lifted from other people’s reviews. Most of them from people I personally know. Sometimes she would copy two or three reviews and combine their words and pass it off as hers. She has friends commenting and liking these reviews. And she thanks them as though she wrote them.

I can’t show you screenshots of all the reviews she copied from other people. I do however, can you show you a screenshot of my review for Kaleidoscope Hearts by Claire Contreras which copied almost word for word.

This was my review posted on Goodreads and on this blog, January 31st, 2015.

mine1mine2Mine3mine4

And this is the plagiarizer’s review she posted last October 29, 2015.

leila copyleila copy 2leila copy 3

She even copied my *swooooon down to the number of Os. I was flabbergasted. I don’t know this person. She doesn’t follow me and we’re not friends on Goodreads. The fact that she went out, copied my reviews as well as others, get likes and comments of “Fantastic review!” or “Well said!” pissed me off because I worked hard to articulate my feelings for this book. I thought about the things I wanted to say, to convey my love for the story. And then here’s this person who comes in, steals my words and pass it off as her own. And I wasn’t her only victim. Even her Goodreads profile summary, which has now been deleted along with her other social media, was copied as well.

As of last night, the number of GR reviewers and bloggers who had their reviews copied are around 20. Twenty people! The numbers could be higher since we only focused on the romance books she reviewed. This person reviews dystopian and graphic novels as well. How many more reviewers she copied is unknown since she deleted her profile on Goodreads along with the incriminating evidence.

Fortunately for me and my friends, and unfortunately for her, we have screenshots. As of this time, Goodreads have been contacted and those offensive reviews have now been taken down. According to GR’s Terms of Service, plagiarized materials, including reviews, are not allowed on their site. If proven, members who are guilty will be banned from the site for life.

What happened to me and a lot of my friends got me wondering though. How many Leila’s are out there? This wasn’t the first time this happened on the site and I don’t think it will be the last. Goodreads users have raised concerns of privacy on the site for a long time. Users have asked, repeatedly, to be given the ability to keep reviews private, viewable only by friends. But so far, those requests have fallen on deaf ears, it seems. Their reason has always been that GR is a site that relies on user interaction and recommendation. In that spirit, they argue that reviews, regardless of whether you have your profile set to private, would still be viewed by the community as a whole. Putting in more stringent privacy measures would negate that philosophy.

That doesn’t sound very comforting, isn’t it? What can you do? Stop reviewing altogether? That doesn’t seem right. I love interacting on Goodreads. A lot of the people I’ve interacted there have become my friends in real life. A lot of the reviewers she copied were her “friends” on GR and on Facebook, too. Having your reviews copied by someone you’ve interacted with is just horrible. I personally felt betrayed and violated, and I haven’t even interacted with this person. Can you imagine how those friends she plagiarized felt? I don’t claim to be the most eloquent reviewer out there but these are my words, my feelings, and they’re very personal to me.

I couldn’t help but think about her motives. I mean, why? Why go out of your way to copy other people. Reviews are not obligatory at all. If you have a hard time expressing yourself, then you don’t have to review. If you must, then just say, “I love this book!” or “This book is awesome!” and move on. There’s absolutely no reason for someone to plagiarize a review. None. You don’t get paid for it. There’s no review police who will knock on your door demanding that you write a review or else. None.

Unless, of course, you’re looking at this as a way to become popular. On a site like Goodreads, visibility and popularity is tied with how many likes or comments you get per review. The more likes you get, the more “popular” and “visible” your reviews get. Not only that, being popular on Goodreads would give a reader some clout on sites like NetGalley. And yes, the more popular you are, the more chances you have to getting contacted by authors for ARCs and such.

There’s nothing wrong with that. We all love to read and we all love to talk about books we read. If you want to achieve top reviewer status, by all means, knock yourself out. That’s totally fine. But what upsets me is the fact that there are people who would take a shortcut to achieve it. For most people, reaching top reviewer status takes many months, even years of interaction and faithful reviewing. I joined GR August, 2012. I didn’t have any friends then. I started from scratch. I had no idea how to use the site. I do love books and I love talking about them. Thankfully, I found Kristen Ashley’s group and my first friends on GR (who I’m still friends to this day) came from that group. I finally figured out how to use the site for reviewing but still, I didn’t become top reviewer overnight. But I digress.

Whatever motive this person has for plagiarizing reviews, whether it’s driven by her desire to get more friends and becoming top reviewer on Goodreads, or just plain ignorance, it’s still wrong. These aren’t “just reviews.” These are personal thoughts and feelings we have for a certain book. Having your personal thoughts stolen by someone who thinks she can get away with it is abhorrent to me. It’s even more detestable if indeed the reason why this person did this was to gain popularity and influence among other users, authors and publishers.

I thought long and hard about writing this post. This isn’t a witch hunt against this person. I have no intention of contacting her personally and berating her. I’ve already done my part by flagging all her reviews and reporting her to GR. I’ve done my part. Hopefully, it would be a long time until we encounter this problem again. I say again because unfortunately, there are still people out there who would have no qualms about copying other people’s work and taking credit for it.

∗∗∗∗∗

ETA: I’m trying to track down the bloggers and reviewers who were affected by this. In the meantime, I’ll list their names here. Not sure if I can link all of them. I might get flagged by WP for having too many links in one post. Anyway, here are the reviewers who had their reviews stolen.

  1. Lana of The Dirty Girl Romance Book Blog
  2. Feifei of The Book Vigilante Reviews
  3. Wendy’s Book Thoughts
  4. YaYa of After Dark Book Lovers
  5. Dusti Hanrahan
  6. Heather the QueenofBooks
  7. Rachel of Rachel Reads Ravenously
  8. Val⚜Shameless, Skanky, Filter-less, & Not Sorry
  9. Sleepless Readmore
  10. Give Me Books
  11. Angie of Angie and Jessica’s Dreamy Reads
  12. DKristin of Kris and Vik Book Therapy Cafe
  13. Pavlina loves Dex ❤❤
  14. ~ Becs ~
  15. Jxxx ♥ Pink Lady ♥
  16. Lauren
  17. Aestas of Aestas Book Blog
  18. Fictional BookHos
  19. Marla Mei
  20. Barbara
  21. Maya
  22. Nikki ღ Navareus
  23. Salvatore
  24. Annie
  25. ◊♦ Naomi
  26. Mysza
  27. Beverly of Reading is Sexy Blog
  28. Christie of Smoking Hot Book Blog
  29. Patrycja of Smoking Hot Book Blog

Note that some of these reviewers got copied not once but twice and even thrice. And a lot of people on this list are friends with her on GR.


41 responses to “On Plagiarizing Reviews…

  1. Bex@NightOwlReader.com

    Well said! I hope you never have to deal with someone like this again, even though that is probably unrealistic. People think they can steal anything published on the internet, use it for their personal gain, and not get caught. It’s becoming an epidemic.

  2. Geri

    Oh man, I’m so sorry to hear that. I only have one review copied and I was livid. This is such a betrayal.

  3. Lana @DirtyGirlRomance

    I’m still reeling from all of this. The mere fact that she had a new profile up and running just minutes after deleting the other one just shows how little she cares. Only thing she learned is how to be better on not getting caught probably. It’s so disheartening. The fact that we were friends on GR and she copied most of my personal profile is just scary. What’s worse is she most likely doesn’t even think she did anything wrong. I think she already has another profile on FB too but with a different spelling of her first name

    • Geri

      Woman, some of the people she copied interacted with her. I can only imagine the betrayal her friends felt. And what for really? To get top reviewer status? 🙁

        • Geri

          It’s really creepy. She targets reviewers that consistently review and copies them. And the fact that some of her reviews are a mesh of two or more makes me think that she gives a lot of thought into doing this. I mean, the way she combines them makes it look as though she truly did write it. She puts effort into copying these reviews.

  4. Salvatore

    I was also one of the people that were friends with her and interacted as well. I never noticed anything, because even if something would be familiar there are also those who keep reposting their reviews in sake of popularity and you think that that’s how you must have seen this again. I was shocked when I noticed that she had even plagiarized my review as well. I agree 100% about the issue with Goodreads and their lack of privacy.

    • Geri

      I still can’t believe she did it to her friends on GR. That’s just a new low. It’s hard to notice because we’re not really thinking that someone we consider as a friend would do it. I’m suspicious but not that suspicious. Also, why would anyone plagiarize a review? I just can’t…

  5. Courtney

    Great article. The saddest part is, all that effort she took in tracking down reviews to use, copying them, then finding another review to go with what she chose, she could have probably articulated a pretty damn good review. People just want to find short cuts to the top and they don’t care who they affect. It is very sad. I saw her new profile, and I think someone should report it to goodreads since she had just gotten deleted. This is gross and disgusting and Im glad she was called out on it.

    • Geri

      Yup. She could have channeled her efforts in writing her own reviews instead of using other people.

  6. Tarina

    I have to wonder whether she even read any of the books or if she stole the reviews to bump up her “status” (do we get some kind of medal for being top reviewer? A paid, all-expense vacation? A blue ribbon that says SUPERSTAR! on it?). That’s the only reason I can think of for stealing someone else’s review.

    • Geri

      That’s what I’m wondering, too! I think there are reviewers on GR obsessed with rankings with all the reposting of reviews to get likes. This girl just took it a lot further than just reposting. As for the the perks…ARCs from authors, NetGalley. But this chick isn’t even a blogger so I’m confused as hell.

  7. Claire Lamb

    Thank you for letting us know it sickens me that bloggers would do things like that to other bloggers we do it for the love of books and our passion for authors and all in our own spare time. It’s people like her that make us want to give up! Claire from Fictional Ho’s

    Xx

    • Geri

      I know she copied one of your (or co-blogger’s) review got copied. We’re trying to get as much screenshots as possible so we can send them to Goodreads.

  8. Lisa

    I really don’t get the point of copying someone else’s review. I’d be furious if someone have copied mine so I feel for those who fall victim to this. Thank you for pointing out this issue and for going to so much trouble to investigate it. I sincerely hope that it is only a very small minority who are engaging in this ridiculous practice!

  9. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    I followed this thread on Goodreads on Sunday, and I had this person on my friend list as well. While I was going through reviews and flagging them, her reviews disappeared, so I never got to check them all, but it was so evident that she was simply copying and pasting other people’s words into her own review space.
    When her profile disappeared, then came back again, I sent a complaint to Goodreads with a link to her new account, explaining the plagiarizing, the new profile and everything else. I really hope she will be banned. It’s very frustrating to see someone being lazy like that, stealing words, and then being all proud when people tell her they love ‘her’ review.
    Thanks for making a full post, with names of the reviewers whose reviews were stolen!

    • Geri

      Right? She was thanking people who complemented her (not) reviews. I think she copied a lot more people. Unfortunately, she took down her profile before we could find that out. Now I’m suspicious about whether she really read this book at all.

  10. Ivonne DeLuca

    I’m one of the bloggers on After Dark Book Lovers, so YaYa was telling us about this. I had no idea it happened to you too. It’s crazy and I still can’t believe it. Plagiarizing a review is just a new low. Sorry it happened to you too Geri.

    • Geri

      It was YaYa’s review that triggered all of it. It made people curious and they started looking into this girl and frankly, we were just shocked. I mean, she copied a lot of big name bloggers, bloggers with serious following on GR. Sooner or later, people will notice.

  11. Tammy McGowan

    You can add me to that list! She took bits and pieces from several of my reviews. After YaYa showed me I went and looked and boom! There I was getting praise under another name! The cheek!

  12. Parajunkee

    Since I’ve been blogging – 2009, there have been about 3 to 5 discovered each year, that I know about. And those are the one that are found. It’s why I stopped posting my reviews on Goodreads. I’ve been hit twice by two different people, who had malicious intent and passed them off as theirs. It’s weird, I don’t understand it either…or why. There are too many of them.

    • Geri

      Yup. I doubt she’s going to be the last, too. GR is just so lax with privacy that it’s so easy for people to copy other people, all for the “top reviewer” bragging rights. It’s crazy. Some bloggers get their fan-arts stolen by other bloggers, too. It’s a never ending cycle.

  13. Michelle T.

    Great post… she also took two of my reviews and literally just copied and pasted. My WRONG review she literally just stole from me.

    • Geri

      Thanks, Michelle. I saw that. I hope you messaged and sent the screenshots to GR. Did you see her new profile on GR?

  14. Angie McLain

    I only have a small blog, not many followers compared to the big ones, but let me say I was furious when I heard about this! I spend A LOT of time on my reviews, posting them to the blog, GR, Amazon, FB and Twitter. The fact that someone is stealing reviews makes me sick, and my heart hurt at the same time! I hope that she is shut down for good, I’ll be watching for this from now on, I had no idea that this stuff even happens until Angie posted about it Sunday morning! SMH

    • Geri

      I never thought someone would steal reviews too since it’s all so personal I mean, we’re not professional reviewers and our reviews are more about our opinions and feelings for a particular book. :/

  15. Aarati

    Holy shit! There is no dearth of people stealing each others works. First authors and now reviewers. I just found out about this person, didn’t know this was happening. It really sickens me. I may not write really lengthy reviews with lots of quotes, but hell each and every reviewer spends so much time reading the book and fleshing out a review. And this girl just comes in and posts them as her own! Despicable.

    • Geri

      Yup. A sentence or two, would suffice as a review. No one is really asking that readers write a masterpiece. But this girl, I don’t think she’s sorry at all.

  16. novelinkchristy

    This is just so sad that this type of thing keeps on happening in this community! Thanks for sharing this post!

    • Geri

      YW! It’s becoming more common now. And it’s not just written reviews that get plagiarized but a few of my friends got their fanarts stolen, too.

  17. Angelized1st

    I’m sorry this happened to you, and to the other bloggers. It sucks! I’ve been there. It happened to me when I used to write reviews for a Vampire Diaries site. Nothing feels worse than having someone plagiarize you, and then take credit. When it happened to me, I got accused of being the plagiarizer. I even got into a Twitter spat over it, because some random attacked me about the posts. It was a blessing, though, because if that never happened, I never would have discovered it. Sadly, it didn’t happen on a site like GR where I could contact them and have an end put to it. Instead, I was forced to contact the person in question, who ignored me, and continued to steal my reviews and articles. End the end she was stopped, because the site I wrote for was popular, and other fans discovered what happened and got on the girl. It’s sad how far some people will go for attention Glad you got this resolved.

    • Geri

      I’m shocked that people would actually plagiarize reviews since to me, reviews are intensely personal.

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