Why the apology matters

When you screw up and hurt somebody, an apology matters.

If it’s a personal thing that only occurs between two or three people, that apology can easily remain private.

But blogs aren’t private.  They are full of posts that are read by others, shared with the public.  Many review blogs receive ARCs from authors, do link exchanges with other bloggers, giveaways, etc.

All of this requires a bit of trust.  The author trusts the blogger to be original (and hopefully honest) in the reviews.  Fellow bloggers want originality and they hope their friends/co-bloggers will respect their work and not steal it.

When plagiarism happens, it’s a breach of trust.  The authors’ trust has been violated, fellow bloggers’ trust has been violated and it all takes place in a very public venue.

Nobody can force another to apologize when they’ve done the wrong thing.  However, when we are dealing with adults, and one adult has wronged another-ie: stolen from them, is it entirely unheard of to expect that adult to do what we would make our children  do? Apologize and own up to their mistakes?

Personally, I don’t think it is, as I made clear yesterday.

What some people don’t realize is that there are certain issues taking place.  Once a blogger has lost the trust of fellow bloggers and authors, she stands to lose other things as well.

  • Many authors will contact their publishers about the plagiarism.  This means the blogger is likely to lose the support of publishers.
  • Many other bloggers no longer want to associate with the plagiarist.  As word of mouth and links drive readers to other blogs, when the blogger loses the support of fellow bloggers, her blog becomes a less popular place to be.
  • Many authors become leery about sending books to a plagiarist for review.

In short, the blogger has placed his/herself in a rather precarious place, one where much of the support she’s previously received disappears.

Plagiarism isn’t just a ‘personal’ matter, either.  Because the blog has an audience and the audience likely expects the blogger not to be ripping off other bloggers.  The blogger didn’t just wrong the authors by not giving honest reviews, and the blogger didn’t just wrong the person they plagiarized, but they wronged every person who visited that blog.  They deceived them and misled them.

The first step in undoing that damage is removing the plagiarized material.  But if the blogger wishes to continue blogging as she had and earn back the trust she’s lost, that isn’t enough.  Trust must be earned back and that isn’t likely if the blogger can’t acknowledge the wrong-doing and apologize.

If you think it’s wrong of me to expect an apology when somebody has wronged another, think about the last time you were wronged-did you want the person who wronged you to just ignore it and happily carry on as always, or did you wish for something more?  Have you ever had anything stolen from you?  After the thief was caught, did you wish the thief to merrily continue to steal or did part of you wish they acknowledge their actions and stop?

One thing about an apology is that it’s a public acknowledgement of their actions-it means they are sorry to those they deceived and in cases like this, it’s not just bloggers, but their audience and the authors and publishers who have sent the blogger in question books.

If the blogger doesn’t care about the respect and trust s/he has lost, all of this is a non-issue. But if they do care, changes have to be made.

And yes, for the record, these were issues I had in mind when I originally posted yesterday-the blogger in question is one who has received books from me, somebody I’ve spoken with online numerous times.  I don’t believe a mistake should completely ruin somebody, but I’ve been online too long to not know how these sort of things work-as a blogger online posted via twitter yesterday,

“Plagiarizing w/o even attempting to apologize & fix your mistake is blogger suicide!!”  http://www.booksoulmates.blogspot.com/

Not long ago, a website, Cook’s Source, went out of business because of copyright infringement issues.  And it was noted time and again by numerous people that offering an apology (and in this case restitution) would have made all the difference.

This website is no longer in service-advertisers cancelled ads, more instances of copyright infringement were found.  Sadly, it’s likely there could have been a different outcome with a prompt apology and the removal of all stolen material.

I’d also like to point out that the blog in question has offered an apology and appears to be in the process of removing the plagiarized reviews.

One Reply to “Why the apology matters”

  1. It’s also worth noting that in a very real sense, asking someone for an apology is a generous thing to do—it’s giving them the opportunity to atone for their actions, which is the first step toward gaining some sort of possible forgiveness. If you aren’t interested in an apology then you likely aren’t interested in giving someone a second chance.

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