Katherine Tomlinson emailed a link to a spec-fiction market called Fiction Vortex. She made the comment that it would be nice if they'd just state that they pay or don't pay. Now they do pay a flat rate of $3 per story but then they run a monthly contest where readers vote on their favorite story and the winner receives $10. Besides the popularity contest the editors pick the top three stories and the winners receive $30, $20, and $10 extra. Now it seems to me that the better way would to take that $70 and split it evenly among the writers for a payment of at the least $10 per story, especially since they're paying through PayPal, and let's face it, after fees the writer would be lucky to have enough to buy a candy bar.
Another "contest" racket that I've spotted lately is in the anthology markets. Instead of calling for submissions for a non-paying market they sponsor a non-paying contest. The prize? You get published.
And then there's the submission process for both zines and anthologies where only the top story receives a payment of $10 or $25. Basically another "contest" type.
I don't know about you, but this type of contest payment plan just doesn't seem right or fair to the writers. Sure, some writers get their professional fees but the others pretty much get "a stick it up your butt" payment. I'm not a fan of paying fees to enter contests but, on average, it's a much better way than this current trend of contests.
What about you? How do you feel about these "contests". And what other sort of "payment plans" do you find rather offensive to writers?