I'm posing that title as a rhetorical question. I don't think it is, but I'd love to hear what others have to say?
Capture my Chicago is a photography contest / social networking site / fine art book in the making. It's a collaboration between CBS 2 Chicago and Pediment Publishing, which has published other books in this model, such as "Capture my Colorado" and "Capture Cincinnati". In essence it works like this: you submit photos to their web site, the photos get voted on by the other users of the web site, and ultimately some combination of the highest vote getters and the editor's choices make it into the book. Capture my Chicago isn't paying the photographers anything, although a select few will receive prizes-- all they're really offering is exposure and credit in the book and on the web site.
I found out about this after someone left a comment on my flickr stream. I have to admit that it's a clever idea, but after some thought I've decided not to participate. While I've submitted photos to contests before, and been published without payment (ie: the Chicago Reader last year is a good example), I draw a distinction between a local, free publication and a fine art book that will be sold for $39.99 at your local Barnes and Noble. I think that pushes the boundaries of what can be considered in good faith a contest. Capture My Chicago intends to publish a book with 100-250 photos. Let's say that 150 photographers take part-- only 18 of those people are getting paid anything in the form of prizes. They're not even giving the contributors a free copy of the book-- you have to buy it yourself!
JPEG magazine has been doing a similar, user generated publication for years now, yet they manage to pay each photographer $100 bucks. That's always seemed fair to me.
In the end, I guess this boils down to what one expects out of their photography? For many people, I imagine the exposure of being in the book is enough. And if that's the case, please don't let this blog post rain on your parade. To each his own.