Friday, February 15, 2013

on blogging etiquette

via
While blogging has been around for many years now, in most cases it is still a new arena of communication, journalism, and hobby. There aren't any hard and fast rules about what we put on our blogs, in our pictures, or in our links. Because there isn't anyone policing us and putting our blog posts into that website our professors in college used to make sure we weren't plagiarizing our midterm papers, it's up to us as a community to police ourselves.

The thing I truly love the most about blogging is all of the inspiration, advice, and suggestions I receive from fellow bloggers and readers. If it wasn't for Bri, I would never have learned the more layers, less frump trick and I would still be trying to figure out how to layer sweaters. If it wasn't for Kelly, I would have been stuck on what to wear for my third day of TOPIO. If it wasn't for Audrey, I wouldn't have my new favorite t-shirt. There are countless other instances where I was inspired by one of you and I never want to take credit for your creativity and claim it as my own. I always try to pin from the original source, and if I use your picture on my blog, I try my hardest to find the original source. If I see a cute outfit or item on your blog, and recreate or buy it, I always try to credit you. Why? Because that's the polite way to blog.

The majority of us all shop in the same sort of stores - mass produced clothing from the mall. Of course we throw in our thrift finds, our hand-me-downs, and our vintage items, but in general our clothes all are pretty similar. How does one find their own style when we are all presented with the same items? How can you even not be a copy cat when we all basically have the same things to pick from? There isn't an easy answer, but I do know that there is a very strong and hard line between the coincidence of having the same article of clothing as another, and continually and systematically hunting down pieces that another blogger has. The point of fashion blogging (I use the term fashion blog here loosely because most of us fall under personal style blogging) is to show yourself, your cute outfit, and your general point of view. Blogging is for working on yourself, on how you dress yourself, and how you present yourself to the world. The point is to show you, not the blogger down the internet street.

You may be asking yourself why I'm even blogging about this. Like I said, I think as a community we have to police ourselves. There isn't a professor here to flunk us when we are caught copying someone else's work. When one blogger copies another blogger for years and years, our community has to take a stand against it. I don't want to be a faceless voice on the internet gossiping about blatant plagiarism of a blogger who has put a lot of time and effort into their blog. I want to present you with what I would consider to be the worst part about our blogging community.

Be inspired by others, don't try to be them.

44 comments:

  1. This a great post!! Often times, I see other bloggers (very popular ones I might add) taking other peoples ideas and claiming it as their own. It's great to be inspired but copying someone else's work is not cool. I know I am just starting out in the fashion blogger world but I pride myself to sticking to works for me and inspiring others with my take on fashion. I would hate for someone not to give me credit when what I wore/wrote inspired them. Shame on those people!

    kikistyles101.blogspot.com

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  2. Great post! So glad you shared.
    Have a great weekend.

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  3. That is crazy! & really pretty creepy. I've followed Extra Petite for years but hadn't heard of the copycat.

    Very well said on your part.

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  4. That is crazy! & really pretty creepy. I've followed Extra Petite for years but hadn't heard of the copycat.

    Very well said on your part.

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  5. I admit I struggle with this but I do try to give credit to the person that inspired me to put an outfit together (like you!) but sometimes I have this nagging feeling that I'm not doing anything new and unconsciously or unknowingly copying SOMEONE. But never consciously. And never to a creepy extent. I hope!

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    1. oh girl, I think we all do a bit of copying without knowing it. It's when someone purposely copies another over years and years and never once credit that it becomes a problem. You're doing a great job with your blog :)

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  6. I try to follow the "golden rule" in all aspects of my life, including blogging! Like you I always try to link back to my inspiration, whatever that may be. Once you are on the receiving end of being copied and know how it feels, then you realize how important it is!

    Also, I occasionally check in with the extra petite/stylish petite SWF thread on GOMI, but because I don't read either of those blogs I've never been really invested in the saga, you know? But after looking at 100 of the 185 pics, I am just floored. I knew it was bad, but not that bad. That's just crazy. Like for real crazy!

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    1. I know! I wasn't aware of how bad it was until I saw that imgur. It's just horrifying.

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  7. I'm so glad you wrote this post. I've been following the EP/SP drama for a while now, and it's just totally mind boggling looking at that gallery. Crazy creeps!!

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  8. Holy Moses, I knew from the GOMI thread it was but seeing it all together on that link page, the identical outfits in the same location (I.e. the train station platform) is mind blowing. I follow fake Annie petite in twitter & saw last night the real Annie has locked her twitter down. If more & more people start talking about it (I saw on the gomi thread jean said it's a community issue), how long before she privatises the blog too? I'd never heard of either of them before reading the gomi thread but jean has a wonderful sense of style & the blatant copying is creepy but fascinating - the amount if time it must take tracking down the exact same items...! Bravo for raising this again Franky, great read :-)

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  9. Wow! I had seen the headline on GOMI, but didn't look at. Many of the pictures until now. That is shocking.

    As a new member to the blogging community, I am highly conscious of this issue. I always want to make sure I am crediting people when I am inspired by them, and I have never gone out and bought something just because blogger X, Y, or Z has them. Pieces have to fit my style, price range, and lifestyle.

    Thank you for being bold and speaking out about this.

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    1. This is crazy! I'm not sure if I'd have the energy to continue if someone was doing this to me, what a creepy, awful way to wedge yourself into someone's life!!!!
      Ginny
      mynewfavoriteoutfit.blogspot.com

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    2. I totally agree with you Ginny. I hope Jean doesn't stop blogging because of this copying business. I feel blogging is a great outlet for her, and great inspiration for the rest of us, so I would hate for 1 person to ruin it for everyone.

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  10. Nicely done! Sometimes I think that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but that one girl is kinda creepy obsessed with the other. The reason I like reading blogs is to get different styling ideas for the items I have, or to see a new item styled a few ways. I have copied people, but I give them credit!

    -AJ
    FitTavelerAJ.blogspot.com

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  11. Well done! I'm shocked by how many copycats there are in the personal style blogging world who don't cite their inspiration.

    I blogged for years without linking/citing sources (mostly as a teenager) before I took a legal course that mentioned fair use/copyrights and got scared straight. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, until someone tries to pass it off as their own and profit from it...

    Let's all band together and promote BLOG HONESTY! :)

    adventuresinaubreyland.blogspot.com

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  12. Wowww. I've heard about this girl on the GOMI forums too, but jeez louise. If she put as much effort into styling and choosing her own clothing as she did to mimicking the other girl, she might have great, unique style. I mean, she's copied the concept and motif of the entire blog and everything. So strange. It's such a fine line, trying to be inspired by others and yet still remain original... there's just not a ton of originality left, you know?

    I think it's a natural inclination for bloggers to hone in on other successful bloggers and try to "do what they did to get successful", but when that becomes the focus, I think they lose themselves and kill their own creative energy. Sometimes I feel insecure when I'm about to wear several-seasons-old shoes or a top that's slightly out of style, but I have to remember that this is just what I wear! I have a personal style that I'm always trying to challenge and mold to my personality, and I never want to look back on my blog and ask myself, "Who was I trying to be?". And better yet, if I'm taking the time to post my outfits and style on the Internet, I want it to be what I want it to be, not what I think people are asking for or what looks good on someone else. I'm still working on my own voice in my blog, but I hope that one day, the message of my blog is inspiring people to dress in a way that suits them and makes them happy, not to just wear exactly what I wear.

    That was a lot of rambling. I hope something in there made sense.

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    1. I didn't know you read gomi! you sneeeeeeeaky lynette ;)

      I don't know what the purpose is, to completely try to be like another person. I can totally understand for someone who is a certain specific size wanting to get pieces that work for others, but then pretending like they thought of it all alone and weren't at all inspired? That's super shady. My favorite part about reading certain blogs is seeing how items are re-worn, or how something from 3 years ago can still look current. We're all working on ourselves to become ourselves- can you imagine putting this much effort into becoming someone else? Ew.

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  13. I'm glad you posted this. This is absolutely ridiculous.

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  14. I needed to pour myself another cup of coffee before commenting, because honestly I could go on for hours about this ;) Coming from a journalism background, nothing irks me more than plagiarism, blatant copying or anything of the sort! Props to you for writing this, and thank you for sharing... I think this is something on all bloggers' minds, but not everyone has the guts to come out and speak about it.

    I have seen and and heard about this type of copying extending beyond just outfits (and I did know about the EP/SP business, honestly I don't know why anyone would still follow someone who does this), from stealing an entire post that someone wrote and just changing the pictures. Who does that?! I mean, I can understand how some things might seem a little similar at times... a lot of the bloggers I follow shop at JCrew, Old Navy, Target, Madwell, F21 etc. etc. and we can all be wearing similar things, but there is definitely a time that you should LINK BACK and make sure something comes from the proper source. And I've seen this both with bigger blogs and smaller blogs! It is just ridiculous.

    And with that said, I ALWAYS ALWAYS try to link back to the original source and definitely link back to where I got inspiration... I even link to YouTube videos when I tried a hairstyle that I learned from someone on there. To me, it just makes sense. And I cannot understand and cannot tolerate people who do not respect others in this community to do the same.

    Bravo for writing this!

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    1. someone has copied entire posts?! that's disgusting. what's the point? if you are too lazy to write your own blog, DON'T BLOG.

      like I said, we all have similar places to shop so of course there will be overlap. there will be times where I buy something someone else has without knowing they had it, but I consider that awesome because it's more inspiration for the piece! We should all be inspired by each other, that's the point. I just think it crosses a line when you try to become another person. Just be yourself!

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  15. Well I *was* going to wear my shirt as a scarf and not credit you, sooo....

    You already know what I think about SP and copying. She is crazy. Great post, franny!

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  16. Interesting post that brings up a lot of good points. I agree with pretty much everything you said. I am a jr high history teacher and I always always teach kids about copying and plagiarism. Even taking the notes off the board that I write and putting them onto their poster for a project is still copying. Stealing other bloggers photos and content is WRONG! and we all know it. But here are some things i have been thinking about lately involving "inspiration" vs. "copying."

    Ideas??? Can they be copyrighted? Should bloggers not take similar pieces from their own closet to make an outfit that another blogger is wearing? For example, this morning I read Js Everyday Fashion and she was wearing a blue striped top, blue blazer, and mint pants. I recently bought mint pants so I pinned her photo for inspiration. If I wear a similar outfit and blog it, do I need to link back to her for the idea to wear blue stripes with mint? I often do, actually, but I don't think it is necessary. There are plenty of people wearing that same combo, most who haven't seen her outfit, some who will just wear and not blog, and I likely would have thought of it on my own. I hope bloggers post their outfits to inspire their readers, not to claim it all for themselves and not allow anyone else to post a similar outfit on the Internet ever again. I am not a popular blogger by any means, but hope that my posts can inspire my readers to put together their own outfits and use what is in their closet. Being inspired by or even "copying" other bloggers helped me to figure out what my personal style is and I do it less and less as I learn more. I am grateful to the ladies who put themselves on the Internet and taught me how to get dressed and for the ideas I get to use what is in my closet instead of continue to shop.

    I know the commenter Kimmie above me was just joking, but do you want people to credit you for the t-shirt idea every single time it's used? I think it's great that you give credit to the bloggers who helped you figure out layer etc. and I try to do the same thing. But I don't think it's "wrong" if someone uses that concept and doesn't credit the source.

    About the Petite copying situation... I have seen both blogs before but never heard of the scandal. Is there really enough proof that she is copying all the posts? Do they come out a week later or something? I don't doubt that it's happening in this situation if enough people are talking about it, but I do think that someone with enough time on their hands could go through the archives of two bloggers with similar styles and find many outfits and posts that are very similar. You said that we all shop at the same stores and that's why we all have the same clothes, but I think it's more than that. I have yellow skinnies, a polka dot blouse, and a military jacket (to name a few) because I saw other bloggers wearing them and I am sure that's the case for many of us. Does that make me a dishonest stealer??? I don't think it does.

    And a word about what Kenid the first commenter said- I think we need to be careful about assuming that someone is copying another blogger, just because we saw Blogger A post about it before Blogger B did. I cannot tell you how many times I was working on an original idea as a craft blogger and before I could publish my post, someone else I was following did the same thing. Did either one of us steal? No, we just happen to have the same idea. It could even be that Blogger A and Blogger B don't know each other's blogs exist and independently thought of the same idea. I frequently use Kendi Everyday for inspiration, but one time she wore an outfit a few weeks after I had already worn something similar. I am 100% sure she didn't copy me. :)

    Well, enough blabbering from me. Thanks for the post so that I could write out my ideas about it! :)

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    1. Hi Aubree,

      Thank you so much for your well articulate thoughts and comments on this situation. It's something I've been thinking a lot about lately, so I really enjoy hearing other people's opinions on the matter.

      I think there's definitely not a clear cut line about inspiration and copying. I think in the situation like the mint jeans, you would have worn something similar anyway. It fits with your style, and the clothes in your closet and since you would have worn it anyway, wearing something similar doesn't necessarily warrant a "I am copying J here" comment. Ya know, unless you went out and bought all of those pieces JUST to copy here. Unfortunately in the copy situation I mentioned, that is what is happening. Entire looks were copied, often within days of the original post. Blog lay outs, reviews, and entire outfits were copied and never once credited. I think that draws the line. It's just very unfair to Extra Petite, to have someone copy you and never once give you credit.

      As far as the t-shirt idea goes, I don't think people need to necessarily credit me but it would be polite to mention it maybe the first time. At least if they heard it from me first. I don't know though, ya know. It's such a strange world, blogging.

      Anyway, I'm sorry I don't have any clear cut answers, I just wanted all of us to have a place to discuss the situation. I appreciate your input!

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  17. What a hypocrite! No shout out? I just wrote on the same topic! Lolz. (*totally joking*!! I should probably refrain from making sarcastic remarks online since it's nearly impossible to pick up on these things.) In all seriousness, thank you for articulating what I wanted to here. You did it so much better than I ever could! I'd love to see a follow-up on etiquette of commenting. If someone invites you to check out their blog, is it rude not to? If you hate that someone consistently posts blurry photos, should you say something? And so on.

    Oh, btw, that link is ridonkulous. I thought "oh these chicks must be sisters or bffs" from the first few pics, but now it's just bizarre.

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    1. I think what you did is so different - you saw something that was similar to the pieces you had, and you recreate it with what you could and then credited it. I think that's exactly what blogging is for. Finding ways to wear your clothes in new ways is the point of blogging for me. You did good girl :)

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  18. I'm always very anxious/paranoid about any outfit I post because I don't want to use some kind of latent subconscious inspiration without realizing or giving credit. I'm constantly inspired by what others wear, but the results may be completely different from the inspiration (I don't know if my "Kendi outfit" a couple weeks ago would have even registered as a "copied look" had I not pointed it out?). I think there has to be some kind of in-between, right? We certainly shouldn't SWF anyone, but should we be forced to list every source of inspiration in the process of creating our clothes?

    Love you, Franny. This post was very brave and well-written. I love that you stand up for what's "right" when so many are comfortable just whispering about it. I give you kudos for taking a public stand and making this issue more "out there" for people to see and acknowledge.
    You kinda rock.
    W

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  19. Very true and I love how you use your blog to introduce your followers to other bloggers, too! I love your "behind the blog" feature. - J

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  20. this is truly a great post. I away give credit where it is do. I would hate for someone to steal my idea and not give me the credit for it.

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  21. Wow what a great post! I just started my blog so this was literally perfect timing!

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  22. Hi Franziska : ) I always enjoy reading your blog and hearing your point of view ever since discovering it via our favorite daytime distraction forum. I don't have much more to say on this topic, but reading through some of the comments above, one of my biggest fears is that this situation will spur a 'witch hunt' of sorts where every little thing bloggers do is scrutinized and bloggers are made to feel that they have to credit the tiniest of inspirations. Everyone's opinions differ, but personally I absolutely don't believe that should be the case, because even the "original" blogger may have subconsciously gotten the ideas somewhere else through the fashion world, either online or off. The fashion industry is a big loop of mutual inspiration, and I noticed that ever since I started speaking out about the topic of originality, I've received a lot of backlash as well on things like a similar pose, a similar hairstyle, or a jacket shown after someone, etc. I feel that ruins the spirit of blogging and distracts from the overarching point of just being yourself, and not passing off others ideas as your own , repeatedly, intentionally, and/or knowingly (obviously, people forget things. It's human nature! but if it becomes part of your reputation, then that's an issue). I think the quote in your post sums it up perfectly. There is definitely space in the world for everyone to be their true self, and I hope bloggers can do so without having to look over their shoulders every second to see if they forgot to credit something. Thank you again for discussing this openly on here and for your supportive words over all this time!

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    1. We all have our back Jean. Keep up the great work - you deserve all the success that comes your way.

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  23. I want to add this extends beyond fashion blogging. I had a successful blogger I followed ask on her Facebook page for everyone's favorite apple recipe. I shared one I had blogged creating apple steel cut oatmeal in the crockpot (and I credited the food blog I had found the original recipe I was trying). She then created a blog post where she had all these apples and decided to make apple and steel cut oatmeal in the crockpot. She never credited my blog or the blog I had gotten the recipe from. At first I thought maybe I was being a baby or crazy about it, but I went back and read through the FB thread and no one else had shared that recipe idea. That was the last day I followed her. SO I agree that if you knowingly were inspired by another blogger then have some class and try your best to link to them.

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    1. ew! all "oh, I just came up with this all my own!" What a liar. Good for you for not sticking around - anyone who pulls such shenanigans doesn't deserve you as a follower.

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  24. Fran, I am so glad you posted this! I wholeheartedly agree that we should all stand up to cyber terrorism. I left a comment on Jean's blog earlier, but I really believe that we won't see change in our community of bloggers until we each stop being "anonymous" and say what we see.
    I know that because I am so much older than you and Jean and Caroline and Cee, it probably comes across as very condescending, but I am so proud of all of you for speaking up and putting yourself out there. I know how scary that can be in the blogging world where we are all supposed to be "nice" to each other.
    Maybe it's because I'm older, or don't see my blog as my career, or that I really don't care if strangers on the internet think I am a snarky bitch. We all know who the real mean girl is here and as long as we continue to point it out in a way that honest, respectful and still truthful, we shouldn't have to be censored.
    GREAT POST!

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    1. Thank you Ana, that really means a lot. I was nervous posting this, but posting this isn't as hard as what Jean's been going through. I'm sure she really appreciates your support!

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  25. amen, sistah. you go, girl.

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  26. Great post Fran, and I agree wholeheartedly. I've "known" Jean ever since she had an itty-bitty blog on blogspot, and I've seen both her style and creativity (those DIYs! I can barely sew on buttons...) grow tremendously over the years. Same for the entire fashion blogging community, really. It has flourished into something pretty spectacular--but unfortunately in both good and bad ways, as we can see here.

    I wish Annie would realize that by copying Jean, she isn't just hurting Jean--she is hurting the entire fashion blogging community. One of the merits of fashion blogging is to learn, share, and inspire--and when someone steals ideas without giving credit where credit is due, it makes the original person less inclined to share those ideas. Less sharing equals less inspirational content, which benefits no one.

    To the bloggers here that are new-ish and are worried that they may be unknowingly "stealing" someone else's content or outfit ideas, don't worry! I promise that most of us realize that we aren't super fashion trendsetters, and so there is always bound to be some creative overlap. The issue here is that Annie has been doing this nonstop for 2, 3 years now...and refuses to acknowledge it OR apologize. She doesn't just copy outfits, but content and even blog & social media designs. It is much more than wearing a j crew blazer and forgetting to credit the 35,657,765,544 other bloggers that have worn that same blazer. She also makes money and gains affiliate relationships through these stolen ideas--so, so not cool.

    One of the things I love most about fashion blogging are the amazing girls that run the fashion blogs (haha, duh Chloe). We are a community, and I think we are a fairly caring, open minded, positive, & accepting community too. Jean is absolutely one of the best models of those core community values, and they shine through with every blog post she creates.

    But I've seen some people suggest that by speaking out about this, Jean is bullying Annie...and that she (Jean) is dividing the community. This couldn't be further from the truth. Annie has created this division herself by her repeated and callous actions over the past several years--and if she doesn't change, this division likely won't either. It will only continue to grow. :(

    Thanks again for providing an insightful and thought-provoking post about this, Fran! As much fun as it is to share outfits, it's also great to be able to share some brainpower, too. :)

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    1. Thank you so much for your well thought out comment Chloe. I think one of all of our biggest fears is that Jean will stop blogging because in the end, she loses out on her hobby and we lose the inspiration. I would hate for Jean to lose something she's worked so hard on for years, and I would hate for the fashion community to lose one of their best members.

      I know we all have pieces in our closets that overlap because we all shop in a lot of similar places and honestly, I think that's great because we find new ways to wear pieces we already have. Not crediting others when we actually wear them is the problem, and frankly, I think it's really unfair.

      I think it speaks volumes that Jean has so many supporters in this, and Annie only has a few (ahem, delusional) followers left.

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  27. This is why I need to check back more often. I'm happy to see this being put out there in print and being very direct and too the point. I think up until now it's been just a whispered about topic and while I think we all are inspired by each other and sometimes we might unintentionally copy another, that's a big jump from copying blog layout, hunting down exact items, asking people to cover up for her and the insane amount of copying that goes on with this blogger. (Um, sorry, that was a long sentence.)
    I do think Jean has been very sweet about this entire thing and I know we all do shop at the same store but when someone is trying to turn themselves INTO that person, they need to be called out on it. (And yes, bulling is something we all need to be careful of, but there's a difference between everyone ganging up one person and all of us taking a stand against something that is unacceptable.)
    Way to go for having the guts to publish this Franky. You rock. It does make me laugh a little to see how many of us do read gomi, judging by all of the comments! :)

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  28. I definitely agree with what you shouldn't take someone's creativity and pass it off as your own, as you said. But I also feel that true originality is rare and that everyone is influenced/inspired by someone or something else. Of course I always try to cite the sources I get inspiration from because I don't want people to think that I am trying to steal ideas! But I started blogging my outfits to hopefully give people an idea of what to wear/how to wear things. So why would I be offended if someone goes out and buys the same things I'm wearing or putting together the same outfits? I would hope that they would give me some credit but at the same time they could have seen that same outfit on 10 other people. But that's just my feelings on the subject :-) The stylish petite/extra petite site that you pointed out is definitely strange. But when I visited each site individually I don't know if I would have picked out the copying/similarities at first glance.
    Anyway, I do agree that bloggers should try to use blogging etiquette and hopefully not consciously copy each other all the time!
    ~Jessica
    Jeans and a Teacup

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  29. woww! i'm not sure how i missed this post but i'm glad you shared! i'm very creeped out after seeing just a few of those pics! I'm not a follower of either blog, but I follow extra petite on Instagram and i've always loved her style! There have been a couple of times where I saw my EXACT words and phrases on another person's blog and it made me so mad! i mean we all copyright but does it really protect us?? it's sad! i like to think I'm pretty unique when I put looks together but i always link to the original post/pic if i'm inspired!

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  30. Spread the word, sistah - you know I couldn't agree more. And while Extra Petite/Stylish Petite is one of the most egregious offenses, it definitely happens with too much regularity. I agree that it's kind of great that most bloggers shop the same places because it gives so much inspiration for wearing pieces you may already have (or similar ones), but there's definitely a difference between (credited!) inspiration and straight up stealing.

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