EDIT - Since posting this article, the cached versions of serial-thief-Cuong Q. Nguyen's website have vanished. I have, of course, kept backups, but you won't be able to see the evidence yourself online. If you really need to check out the theft-evidence, drop me a message and I'll mail it to you.
I just saw Angel Zapata's brilliant piece of detective work regarding author Richard Ridyard and his brazen plagiarism. It was a damn fine collection of evidence, and I hope this kills any writing career Mr. Ridyard was trying to cultivate. You only get one strike in this industry, boy.
Since it seems the only way to really kick plagiarists in the teeth is to make their thefts public, I though I'd make a short post about my little writing communities encounters with a thief. Mark this name down next to Richard Ridyard on the "must avoid" list: Cuong Q. Nguyen.
I'm a member of an online group called the Writer's Block, a bunch of folk from many countries who are all dead-set on improving our writing abilities without taking any guff. When we post up our short stories and poetry we expect to be treated harshly. There are no tears allowed in the Writer's Block (just as there is no crying in Whitechapel).
Once, perhaps, we were a group of amateurs. Now it feels like I'm the most amateur of the collective. Over the years we've produced several magazine-published authors, two magazine editors and a Vogel shortlister. So yeah, we take our writing fairly seriously. And it was a kick in the pants when one of our regulars came onto the forum and said:
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. SOMEBODY STOLE MY STORY! http://www.alethian.net/tag/short-story/
WHAT THE FUCKING HELL.
BIRDS OF FLOOR FORTY SEVEN AT THE BOTTOM
EDIT: MOTHERFUCKER STOLE ALL OF THEM
So it turns out a guy in Maryland called Cuong Q. Nguyen had been stealing the stories we'd posted for critique and reposted them on his own personal blog. Not just one, but several. Compare:
Now, stealing other people's work and posting it online as your own is naughty. But what about when you're the editor of your universities philosophy journal and you steal information for articles? Yep, Cuong Q. Nguyen is the editor of the Prometheus, the John Hopkins undergrad philosophy journal. And doesn't this article seem very familiar to this? Oh, Cuong. Naughty naughty.
As soon as we contacted Cuong about this issue he deleted his entire website, saying there had been a "misunderstanding". Thank goodness for Google Cache, eh? His professors have also been contacted, so hopefully that will lead to some form of resolution. At the very least, it's taught us a bit about where we post our work, and what sort of precautions to take.
In the words of one Writer's Block member,
Cuong Q. Nguyen you're a fucking dick.