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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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on penelope in specific
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
I'm splitting this between my diary and LJ, since some of it isn't relevant to one at all. Recs, other things are there, where I am bouncing happily over the story Isilya posted last night for the Two Paths series. I split my personality as thoroughly as my online and RL.

And this isn't metaing, it's personalizing. And run along if you're tired of the subject. God knows, I am, and I wouldn't read it if I hadn't written it.



Hmm. This is difficult. I'm used to reading about people I don't know and have no emotional investment in whatsoever, or people who are in my time zone or close to it, so everything happens, well, very FAST. The delay between the first query on the status of the story and Penelope waking up halfway across the world to find out her story has been called into question over its model--that gave the approximation of several independent LJ entries, God alone knows how many comments, a fandom wank commentary, and probably dozens of emails and about eight hours or so, though the LJ times confuse me, so it could have been slightly less or much more.

Objectively, I see the reason for this entire thing. It was an uncomfortable similiarity and those who read the story and the poem in question obvously were uncomfortable enough to want clarification, and Corinna obviously did the logical thing and brought it to attention.

Subjectively, I like Penelope. I was just getting to know her. She's funny and fun to talk to and I liked her SV fic and was looking forward to what she'd bring to the fandom. She's really close to Isilya and other people I admire and respect immensely. And I hate that we lost her before we even got a chance to get to know her. And I'm not sure we even lost her over the fact that the story was called into question, because critique in fandom is normal enough--very recently someone publicly questioned the origin of one of my manips. *shrugs*

It shouldn't have turned into a debate between HP and SV fen on the relative merit of plagarism, because it was ABOUT Penelope and THIS particular story in specific, not about the generalized state of plagarism and fiction in HP and SV fandom and whether or not it's accepted there and not here.

I wish the entire thing hadn't become a meta point of debate on plagarism, but that it had stuck to the base that corinna_5 set up, which was an honest and reasonable query on whether Penelope just forgot to toss a disclaimer in while posting, considering a similarity between poem and story. Instead, within twenty or less comments--and look at my shock--the entire discussion shifted to Cassie Claire in HP and whether HP had a history of plagarism and blah blah interfandomcakes. I don't care about the HP history all that much. I really don't care about the SV history all that much, since I was here for most of it.

I REALLY wish Penelope wasn't in a different time zone, so she could have caught her mistake immediately and corrected it before the discussion became what it became.

SV the fandom isn't snobby and out to kick any new authors who wander in among us. HP the fandom isn't chock full of plagarizers all looking for a story to copy. And the generalizations are just--frustrating. And while I don't agree that Penelope should have left fandom behind--I'm hoping that it's just shock and olympia_m and isilya and anatsuno and the others will talk her back in after she's calmed down--I can see why she would react like this.


  • 1
If I wasn't already loveing you for the stories, I'd be now for the sheer down-to-earth, quiet, nice honesty you're displaying now.

I do hope she comes back, too.

And I agree that calling it into question was among the things that could be done, but because I am aware of the general time problem on the Net, I still think I would have emailed her first.
This way you sort of make sure things get cleared before trolls or revengeful people come in to play.
Sigh.

*hugs*

Time zones suck amazingly. Only in LJ land is it really sinking in how much of a problem that can be. It just occured to me while emailing Isilya that she's probably sleeping right now, dammit.

Talk to her and tell her to come back, please? I can see why she'd need some time away, perfectly understandable to me, but...both fandoms will be less with her absence.


[hugs back]

Yeah, we'll talk and try.
I too think both fandoms would miss her greatly...

It shouldn't have turned into a debate between HP and SV fen on the relative merit of plagarism, because it was ABOUT Penelope and THIS particular story in specific, not about the generalized state of plagarism and fiction in HP and SV fandom and whether or not it's accepted there and not here.

All I'm going to say is that this part of the thread completely befuddled me.

It was as if two conversations were going on, between the clarification I was trying to get and the assumptions being posited about things I had no clue about and no wish to get involved in. HP fandom, what? Who? Who cares? Not me. The connections were not only tenuous, I found them irrelevant -- but since I know next to nothing about the HP fandom, how can I argue for or against it? I don't even know who the hell "Cassie Claire" is, and frankly, I don't want to.

This fandom is enough to keep my busy on its own.

I really liked the story too. So much so that I recommended it without hesitation -- without personally knowing Penelope, her friends, or her connection to *anything* -- let alone what fandoms she's written in before or during. I based my enjoyment of the fic on its original presentation and when that came into question, I too had to question it, because I felt my critical integrity was on the line.

But HP and this? Apples, meet oranges. The assumptions and generalizations are just mind-boggling. Grind your axes somewhere else, please.

*nod*

I'm not critiquing your actions or corinna's, ingrid, and yeah, that pretty much lost me as well with the bizarre switch over to bifandom politics. *hugs* It was very refreshing to see rationality and good sense in the beginning of the discussion and in all your posts throughout.

(Deleted comment)
Hmm. Okay, I do see what you mean. But.

However, when you have someone coming in saying, "Well, in Harry Potter fandom, we just don't see the big deal!", then, you know, the link does sort of appear.

This discussion wasn't about whoever made that comment--it was supposed to be about Penelope and her story, whose participation seemed to be completely unnecessary, as by the time she posted, the facts of the case were already lost in the mad rush for more metaing and cross accusations of snobbery, plagarism, and general bitchiness.

If you have people writing in fandoms that don't maintain even minimum ethical standards and they wander over into the fandoms that do...they're shocked when they're suddenly criticized for doing things that are A-Ok in their home fandom.

But again, Penelope wasn't even participating at the time this began--the girl was in bed asleep. She didn't make that statement, she wasn't around when the statement was made.

My point isn't that plagarism or authors who practice it shouldn't be held liable, because yes, they should be, and yes, that is a bad thing.

The discussion should NOT have been taken outside the original parameters as established--one story, one author, one lack of a disclaimer, no matter their home fandom, which was irrelevant to the discussion in question in the first place. I don't give a damn about what the HP fandom does or does not tolerate--if I was a part of it and understood it, then I could afford to have an opinion on the subject. Instead of this being a simple question and answer session with Penelope being the obvious choice to actually answer the question, it turned into an SV versus HP fen war. And there was no lack of participants to leap in to drag one another through the mud, completely forgetting the original purpose of the LJ entry in question. It was, at very least, irresponsible behavior on the part of many fans who participated in the mudslinging.

(Deleted comment)

Uh, what?

(Anonymous)
The sentence at the end of the post was, to put it mildly, inflammatory, and the dismissiveness with which you dealt with it and continue to deal with it is appalling. You insulted a huge group of people unprovoked in a fandom in which you have no presence whatsoever.

What confounds me even more is that you declare LJ threads "not a suitable place for a person to Officially Defend Her Integrity to All Fandom." You insulted an entire fandom in an LJ thread, yet you deem it unsuitable for a person to defend their integrity in an LJ thread? Where is this play book you're using as to which is "suitable" for an LJ thread? Please, publish this code of how and for which purpose LJ threads should be used so that we can learn from what is no doubt years of accrued fandom wisdom.

You have got to stop making sweeping generalizations, and you've got to stop confusing the way you see it for the way it actually is. You are a self-declared and very vocal Elder Stateswoman of the SV fandom. You love this fandom, that much is apparent. You are a writer capable of creating really good stories. Please, be more careful with your words because just as you judged Harry Potter based on Cassie Claire, Harry Potter is judging SV based on what you have said, and you're not creating a good impression. I'd love SV to attract the cream of the crop of every fandom, not scare them away. We can't judge people based on their previous fandom or their actions in it, because Sarah, I've heard enough to know you'd be booted from SV if your actions in Buffy and Angel, in both TWOP forums and interactions with other fans, ever came out.




Re: Uh, what?

(Anonymous)
Talk about my own logic biting me in the ass.

Everyone is welcome to SV fandom (I hope the fandom feels the same way.) Cream of the crop in this particular instance, is a general term for my personal wish list of authors from other fandoms that I've lurked and read in that I personally would love to see tackle SV to give it their own unique twist. Mairead Triste or Francesca/Speranza from Sentinel and Due South, Gemma Files in Oz, Wax Jism from The Faculty, Kaylee and Tangerine from X-Men, oh, how great it would be. But I'd love to get the chance to get not just them, but all the writers I haven't heard of without them being scared by the rather...imposing figure cut by Sarah T.

D.

My ass seems okay, all things considered :)

What confounds me even more is that you declare LJ threads "not a suitable place for a person to Officially Defend Her Integrity to All Fandom." You insulted an entire fandom in an LJ thread, yet you deem it unsuitable for a person to defend their integrity in an LJ thread? Where is this play book you're using as to which is "suitable" for an LJ thread? Please, publish this code of how and for which purpose LJ threads should be used so that we can learn from what is no doubt years of accrued fandom wisdom.

I have to agree with the statement. An LJ or blog is a location for one's own personal off-the-cuff observations. It's a personal soapbox, not a fandom forum like a posting board or mailing list. No one but the friends and online acquaintances of the blogger could be realistically expected to read it (though a BNF or noted columnist may have a very large readership, or a particularly striking post may be well-linked-to). It being on the internet, unless posts are designated "friends-only" anyone can show up to read it -- but it's not a great place to make announcements one wants an entire fandom to see.

And given its status as an individual's journal rather than a group forum, it's also where a person has the right to say whatever the hell they want to. It's certainly classier to be nice even in semi-private, but the netiquette is definitely a bit different for a blog than for a more public online locale.

See, the way I see it, an LJ thread is not a suitable place for a person to Officially Defend Her Integrity To All Fandom. It's much better as a place for a critical discussion of the issues arising from it. Exactly because this kind of thing can happen, and everything else that can happen when nobody's controlling what people are saying. It's not suited to the first purpose.

Which is the point someone made, that Penelope should have been contacted privately to make the correction beforehand. Unless the LJ user in question is really good at crowd control, and I can think of only about three people in SV fandom who are intimidating enough and confident enough in themselves to shut people up when they choose to.

But on the other hand, I can't see how Corinna could have anticipated the slippery slide down in making a perfectly honest query and I won't second guess her at this late date. Once it shifted, the argument took a turn for 'not if she did it' but 'if she didn't', with the assumption of guilt because of her other fandom affiliations, with THAT being the criteria used for judgement. Her FANDOM. I wish fandom hadn't been brought up at all in this case, because it didn't lead anywhere at all productive, and the descent into plain mudslinging shamed both fandoms more than the actual accusations passed back and forth ever could. And no matter what happens from this point on, that's a stigma that WILL stick in people's minds. They won't remember Corinna making a very reasonable query. They'll remember the SV/HP Plagiarsm Debate/MiniWar/Whatever.

Given the specific consequences, I'm sorry that I made that remark there, instead of my own blog. (I am currently being punished by a marching band playing outside my window.) But, as I said, I was thinking of it in terms of typical free-ranging discussion, not, hm, the forum for Penelope to say yea or nay.

I know--I don't think most people who originally posted could have foreseen where it'd end up. I just wish when people DID realize what was happening, they'd damn well stop and remember this was one person being dragged through this in absentia, with no ability or knowledge at the time to answer for herself.

I'm still personalizing. *sighs* And that's not the best way to go about arguing, unfortunately.

(Deleted comment)
What I'm trying to say is: if you try to have a discussion of that nature in LJ, it's going to end up going off in all directions. [Snippage] it's not going to work (as opposed to not being allowed, for people apparently struggling to follow along at home) as a place where you have a tightly-focused, deliberately-restrained discussion of any sort. It's not set up for that.

Actually, it is set up for that -- for each individual LJ-holder. If it's your own journal, you can delete any given comment posted, or all, or set the entry to "no comments allowed" and tell everyone involved to take their flameware elsewhere. But like with a moderated list, how well the system works depends on how firm a grip on the reins the moderator keeps.

Having a flamewar erupt in your blog must indeed suck. But if it's my blog it's happening in, I don't have to lie back and take it.

I can see why she would react like this.

Really?

I can't.

If it was an honest mistake, and I believe it was, I don't see why "Oh god, I screwed up, here's the attribution, please delete the old copy and upload the new one to the archive" isn't the response.

Maybe I'm just so used to having to say that I screwed up that it's no big deal to me anymore. I dunno.

I guess I have no patience for people who are *such* delicate flowers that being called on an honest mistake sends them fleeing.

As for the HP/SV thing, I understand why Sarah said what she said, and I'm sorry that it blew up, because that's not the issue at all.

However, HP fandom *does* in many corners, support someone who is a major plagiarist, and maybe it's my English major background, but I have no truck with that.

Obviously, mileage varies.

Vic, this sounds pissy, but I'm not gripey at you at all, and I understand what you're saying.

Keep that in mind before you look for the uzis. *g*

This debate went WAY beyond a mistake made by a single author for a single story, and I honestly think that may be the entire problem. I won't speak for what I think Penelope's going through right now--her close friends are much more qualified than I.

If that was all that was going on in the thread in question, I doubt we'd have 108 comments in corinna_5's LJ alone, and I'm not even counting related LJ posts, diary entries, et al on the subject. Right now, two fandoms are being dragged through the mud kicking and screaming because, of course, it can't ever be just about one single thing and one single incident to be cleared up by one single author. Every damn time, it has to be An Example and Meta Point For All Fen to Debate ad nauseum, and to hell with the entire core issue and God help the person or story who was at the center originally.

I don't mean to sound bitter, but I am getting there, because, yes, I am personalizing a lot. I LIKED her, and more than that, I respect her as a writer. And this huge part of me wants to just--I have no idea, meta my ass off on the idea of turning every damn thing into a Point to Be Made, because really, not every single thing NEEDS to be turned into a generalized fandom issue. Once in awhile, we can stick to the issue, one person, one story, one mistake, without dragging THREE YEARS of one fandom's history behind it like a rotting blanket or whatever other scandals have cruised through a fandom.

If I was in Penelope's shoes, I have no idea how I'd react to some of the things I've read. Penelope is HP and new to SV as a fandom--we're better than this as writers and readers and debaters. We didn't need to use her mistake as a new soapbox to stand on to decry plagiarism or argue if HP does or does not encourage it.

So yes, I do understand. She posted a story, went to bed like any normal person, and woke up not to feedback and happy thoughts, but an LJland gifting her with the title of Possible Plagarist, close to eight hours of debate, commentary ripping her fandom apart, and I'm scared to even guess what her email held for her.

You know, I don't even need to like her to feel bad for her. There isn't anyone, including the few people I honestly do not like, who I would wish something like that on.

(Deleted comment)
Actually, Jenn, though I mostly agree with you, I'd say that this is one issue that does need it. If it's not made clear whenever this kind of thing happens that it's not tolerated, it will creep in. One fandom tolerates it, and before long their writers turn up in others, using the same lack of standards. Where does it end, if people don't say, "No, this is wrong, this is something we don't tolerate generally?"

But no one was, originally, making any sort of claim to that purpose. And there weren't very many in that thread who actually were supporting wholesale plagiarism that I can remember. As far as I know, SV has had one case of blatant plagiarism that Livia found and modded almost immediately. It was nice and obvious and probably would have been the best argument point ever if we really needed it established in the fandom, which I haven't seen any evidence that it needs to be.

And I am going to learn to consistently spell that word correctly.

We handle it when it happens. We don't need to proactively seek out a possible future problem when we're not exactly having it as an issue. And secondly, this was possibly one of the weakest test cases we could have used, not to mention horribly unfair, since the author in question wasn't even able to respond to the original query in any decent amount of time.

Obviously, I understand that she's upset and also that she'd like a little fandom seclusion. But, at the same time, getting your feelings hurt by criticism is pretty much a natural and predictable consequence of doing something wrong--and it should be.

Criticism is saying my Clark in HoD was severely out of character or Lex would never wear a corset or Lionel would never commit suicide. These are points on the ability of the writer to tell a story and characterize correctly and come with the territory of being an author who posts publicly. Feelings hurt, normal response, blah blah criticismcakes. We all go through it once just for kicks, and usually a few more times after, and it's never easy but hell, we know that when we post, even if we all sort of duck and hope that this story won't be used as target practice. *g*

The mere accusation of malicious plagiarism (thank you for that term, raincitygirl is the online equivalent of a slap in the face. It's nothing like the above criticism--it taints in a way that's hard to erase, ever, especially from the author's mind and feelings, sometimes from the general mindset of the casual reader and writer in fandom, and the damage to an author's rep, the one thing most do prize, can be extreme.

At least, that's how I'd feel in the same position. Feel free not to graft this on Penelope's personal feelings, since I have no real idea how she's feeling right now.

Being objective now. Yes. I really am. Yay.

The thing here is that Corinna didn't jump up and down and say Evil! Bad! Plagiariser! In fact, most of the SV people invovled didn't do that. Corinna noted the similarity and provided the original, defended the transformative use of the poem, and wondered if an attribution hadn't been left out. That's not an accusation of malicious plagiarism, that's a simple question: did an attribution that belonged there get left out. Yes, Sarah made inflammatory comments, but she's also admitted that, tried to rectify it, and created a forum to discuss that.

What it comes down to for the community is that yes, I think PZ should have been written (that was, in fact, my very first post to the thread, asking whether she had been informed) but I also think that this kind of matter should be discussed in a public forum for two reasons. For the first, if this weren't so clear-cut a case of source-borrowing, it would have been a chance for the community at large to disagree that there was any similarity at all- problem solved. For the second, what a lot of people are failing to grasp here is that most of us do not know PZ. I'm sure she's a wonderful person, a nice person, but to the majority of SV, she's an unknown quantity. We don't have the experience with her to say, "You know, she usually credits, I'll just drop her a note and she'll fix it." As far as anyone knows, she might have done it on purpose, and would ignore a note. (I'm not saying she would, I'm saying we don't know her reaction.) How much grace do you give a stranger? Twenty four hours? A week? A month? If it were a simple mistake, all PZ had to do was say, "I screwed up, let me fix it," and the issue would be over. It's not a lasting taint to be questioned, it's just a moment of being questioned, just as I've been questioned, you've been questioned, you name the writer in this fandom, and I bet you somebody has said something untoward about one of their stories.

I have to respectfully disagree that this was a weak test case. PZ admitted that the poem was the source of inspiration, Corinna was not incorrect that there was a missing attribution. In fact, if the fandom war hadn't started, this would have been an ideal test case because it's self-policing in action: we all watch each other's backs. You know my feelings on the matter anyway, because I've written to you more than once when I thought somebody was ganking wholesale out of your stories. If you watch me, I'll watch you, and that goes for everybody in fandom.

Do I feel bad that PZ felt the need to leave the fandom entirely? Of course I do, I know exactly what it's like to wake up and find fire on your doorstep. The whole war over "In a Season of Calm Weather" took place at a time when I couldn't be in the loop, and when I got back, it seemed like half the world hated me, and the other half resented me, but you know what? It goes away. I know that's not much comfort to anybody right now, let alone PZ, but eventually all things fade. Her feelings will still be hurt, but she could come back at any time, rectify her attribution, and still be a welcome part of the fandom.

Speaking only for myself, if somebody thinks that I took off with something, I hope to god they make it public. The craven thing to do would have been to make the question in a friends-locked entry, so that neither the author, nor her friends, would have the opportunity to know about it, comment on it, or present their point of view. The story is public, the question was public, and the resolution could be public. The fandom war was an unfortunate side-trip that detracts from the original point, which was a simple, "Did you?" to which the answer apparently was, "I should have, but I didn't." Imminently fixable, you know?

Eeh. I didn't make myself clear enough. Sorry about that.

The thing here is that Corinna didn't jump up and down and say Evil! Bad! Plagiariser! In fact, most of the SV people invovled didn't do that. Corinna noted the similarity and provided the original, defended the transformative use of the poem, and wondered if an attribution hadn't been left out. That's not an accusation of malicious plagiarism, that's a simple question: did an attribution that belonged there get left out.

Corinna's actions throughout were perfectly logical and honest queries that have almost no relation to what I actually have a problem with, which is the fact that the query turned into a plagiarism war with Penelope unwittingly in the middle of it. I think corinna did exactly the right thing, considering her feelings on the subject, making both note of her discomfort and providing comparison to the original poem for other people to judge.

My later remarks to Sarah T are in refernce to why I could see Penelope might feel she would leave the fandom are separate from any question of the rightness of corinna's entry. I don't argue corinna did the logical thing, but that the way it exploded past the story to an all out discussion of plagiarism in HP etc is what probably made her wish at very minimum to take a break.

That, er, clearer?

This really fast.

I'm sure she's a wonderful person, a nice person, but to the majority of SV, she's an unknown quantity. We don't have the experience with her to say, "You know, she usually credits, I'll just drop her a note and she'll fix it." As far as anyone knows, she might have done it on purpose, and would ignore a note. (I'm not saying she would, I'm saying we don't know her reaction.) How much grace do you give a stranger?

What's wrong with assuming the best? I mean, I do see what you mean on this, but--why should we, as a fandom, jump to the worst conclusion instead of just automatically assuming the best until proven otherwise?

*grins* Granted, okay, I usually don't think like that either. But when the query is this serious--and plagiarism is a hugely serious deal in fandom to most if not all writers--then I'd have to try and lean toward benefit of the doubt.

Of course, I personally have yet to be seriously plagiarized, so hell, I might actually start lynching at random if this occurred, but I like to think the better of myself too.

Er, I think I got that out right.

Nice comments, Hope. Thank you very much for posting.

What's wrong with assuming the best? I mean, I do see what you mean on this, but--why should we, as a fandom, jump to the worst conclusion instead of just automatically assuming the best until proven otherwise?

That's just the point I wanted to make, because the war aside... we did think the best. Corinna, me, LaT, a raftful of other SV authors were in that very thread not only giving her the benefit of the doubt, but defending the use of the poem as transformative fair use. That's just what I think is getting lost here is that the actual war really had nothing to do with the actual question posed. If the original post had been, "Look at this, this dirty little thief! Stealer, stealer!" there would be nothing to defend here, that's just not what the original content was. I'm just as frustrated as anybody that what started out as a question turned into "HPers are plagiarists!" and "SVers are evil bitchwhores from hell!" because I know it's not true of either fandom. Hopefully this will serve as a lesson in the future to stick closer to the topic directly at hand. Or, you know, a great guide on how to rile up about 500 people in 12 seconds or less. :)

That's just the point I wanted to make, because the war aside... we did think the best. Corinna, me, LaT, a raftful of other SV authors were in that very thread not only giving her the benefit of the doubt, but defending the use of the poem as transformative fair use. That's just what I think is getting lost here is that the actual war really had nothing to do with the actual question posed. [...] I'm just as frustrated as anybody that what started out as a question turned into "HPers are plagiarists!" and "SVers are evil bitchwhores from hell!" because I know it's not true of either fandom. Hopefully this will serve as a lesson in the future to stick closer to the topic directly at hand. Or, you know, a great guide on how to rile up about 500 people in 12 seconds or less. :)

*laughs* It WAS fast, wasn't it? I had only a few hours between seeing Corinna's original query and then getting back online and seeing what it had grown into and yes, beyond shock.

I am in total agreement with all of the above. And one day, I'm going to be this damn concise. Sheesh. Practice, practice, practice is in order.

One fandom tolerates it, and before long their writers turn up in others, using the same lack of standards. Where does it end, if people don't say, "No, this is wrong, this is something we don't tolerate generally?"

You insist on continuing to dig, don't you?

I'm afraid I missed the elections for the Harry Potter Fan Senate, since I've only been in the fandom for a little over a year. I think I also missed the memo where I was given the Official Fandom Platform Planks on plagiarism, taxes, and Bush attacking Iraq. I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to do about the Cassie Claire thing, since that went down before I joined the fandom, but then, clearly, not having access to all the facts hasn't stopped anyone else from forming an opinion. I suppose we could start a Fandom Vigilance Committee or something.

Of course, the fact that the HP fandom is frelling huge, and that beyond the fact that we're all playing with Rowling's toys, it's impossible to make any generalizations about "the fandom" as a single hive mind, is going to make setting fandom-wide policy a bit tricky. I had no idea who Cassie Claire was for months. I didn't read her fic, and she didn't show up on my radar because her Draco Trilogy is het. Do forgive me for my negligence in not chasing after her with a pitchfork when I didn't know who the hell she was.

By your logic, I suppose I should assume that all Smallville ficcers go around stereotyping everyone who's not sufficiently enlightened as to be a part of their fandom.

(Deleted comment)

Re: On the whole subject

*nod*

If I got frustrated with anyone, I think it was with those who thought that the idea of plagirism in general wasn't that bad a thing. *That* upsets me but the comments weren't directed at Penelope in that respect and I do hope in the future, she can understand that if people seemed upset it's not a personalization at her, just a the situation in general.

Yes, exactly. And you said it in a much shorter paragraph than I managed! *g* I am mostly in the same thoughts--I can see why she'd personalize--hell, I probably would have personalized, though God, I hope that's never tested--but that with some time, she'll be able to relax and gain some perspective.

Thanks for your comments!

When public discourse meets personal reputation

I've seen this sort of thing happen before, and not just in fandom. Someone speculates about something online, suddenly a huge discussion ensues, and then the original object of that discussion learns what's happening and is horrified.

There's no good cure for it, in the sense that we're all within our rights to speculate on what we please, and even if I were the Grand High Pooh-Bah, I wouldn't want to wave my wand and take away free speech, as the community would be poorer thereby.

And of course I quite agree that once something has been published on line, it's open for discussion.

That being said, there's what I think of as the "real life" consequence that follows the theoretical freedom. If you're the object of one of these brouhahas, the distinction that "hey, nobody *accused* you of being a low-down, mule-stealin' varmint... we just said *if* you was a low-down, mule-stealin' varmint..." is likely to appear too damned subtle for comfort.

I must admit that if I found a huge LJ entry packed with people speculating about my honesty, it would freak me the hell out. I'd be a bit traumatized, and my personal reaction to emotional trauma is to withdraw. I might, eventually, return, if enough people told me that no, they don't all hate me, and rubbed my wrists with smelling salts and led me gently back online. But I would probably spend the next couple of years starting at sudden noises and working on my breathing exercises every time I saw the word "plagiarism" in print.

Because it's only human to take this stuff personally. It is. Yes, there are people out there with nerves of rubber matting, who don't give a shit; but it's been my experience that they're the minority. In fact, there've been a couple of times (in other venues) when guys who made a big deal about being about to take it and dish it out were suddenly on the opposite end of the stick, and I saw them lose their composure royally.

I don't mean this *at all* as a vote for a fan culture that's cheerful and comfy with plagiarism. I just mean -- we're a hothouse society, LJs living cheek by jowl with each other, and personal relationships are the life's blood of fandom. (Prick us, and we bleed.) I probably would have e-mailed the author first, but at this point the original poster is doubtless sick to death of being second-guessed, and at any rate what I'm talking about is my personal choice, not a blueprint for anyone else's behavior.

Just: I understand why Penelope would be upset. I don't know her, and I'm not familiar with her work. But I know it's easy to tell someone "hey, get over it," less easy to actually take that advice.


Re: When public discourse meets personal reputation

Koi, I love you. This is beautifully articulated. *hugs* Thank you very much. I'd frame it on my wall if my printer, well, worked. *g*

*hugs* And welcome to LJ land!

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