I run a website that conducts short story writing competitions for 10 months (each month different genre), and publish an anthology at the end of the year containing all the winning stories. It's just a platform for aspiring writers to make their portfolio by getting published in a paperback.
It's clearly mentioned in the submit-form on the website where the participants submit their entries that we are not going to remunerate the winners. We have spoken about the copyrights and submission guidelines clearly in English, instead of legal terms so that participants will understand them easily. Still, I get many emails inquiring about the same. It gets on my nerves, but I reply to them all patiently and politely.
Conducting this competition isn't cost-free and since we are just a start-up we are just going to break-even (no profits at all). As a writer, I feel that I am doing good by providing an opportunity to other aspiring writers like me to get published. I would have appreciated such opportunities as a writer.
Why do participants demand money when we have already mentioned the no-remuneration condition? Short stories must be of 5000-7500 words to enter our contest. If a writer doesn't like the word limit then he might not participate. Why do they write mails asking me to change the way I run my business? It's not like we aren't getting entries. Many participate, and they are quite happy with the competition. Many participated more than twice, even after not winning.
I know a business exists for its customers, and I believe in keeping participants happy by judging the entries fairly. The submission duration is big enough too. How should I handle all the negative feedback that I get? I don't want to keep explaining myself to everyone who questions the way the site is run. I also don't want to ignore the feedback as I wouldn't have liked it if someone ignored my emails.