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I'm following the contest because I'm fascinated with the artwork presented. This is not the first contest I've followed, and it's likely not to be the last. There are no rules stating you have to be a contestant to watch or comment. Implying people with no stake have no business watching is like saying only the singers from American Idol are allowed to discuss or watch the show.
The only reason my comments appear to be disruptive is because your responses are so catty and draw attention to my comments. You're disrupting your own competition.
Really, I'm not sure why you're so defensive. Commentators can't even give praise without you coming to the defense. Stating the amount of the prize is not accusing you of ripping individuals off. Commending artists on their efforts is not accusing you of ripping them off.
It was the artists' choices to enter the contest... it's not like you forced them. Whether the prize was $15 or $1500 and people entered, that's their choice. The artists are still submitting wonderful work, putting in quite an effort with no guarantees.
And before you get all bent out of shape about guarantees, I'm not talking about guaranteeing the prize. (I also read your comment on that. As I said, I've been following this contest with interest.) I'm talking about there being only one winner, which has little to do with you and more about the way contests work. Even if the artist you select as the winner does choose to work with you down the line, there are still many MANY of hours of work put into this contest with no compensation, which includes hours put in incorporating feedback.
What do you want designed?