I don't think there's enough risk for the artist to be inclined to put their absolute best foot forward since about all they lose is time, and maybe respect, but I've only seen that happen to a chosen few, and even when it does, it is almost always reversible.
Sometimes I still struggle with why I believe that all of Woot's designers should strive to do their best (but most of all, why I should do my best), however you make an extremely good point. This is a contest where people don't *have* to do their best to win. In fact, a lot of the time voters unknowingly (or knowingly) encourage what others would call mediocre. And how are the people who put effort in their work supposed to compete with that? It's kind of maddening..
Anyway, I suppose in the end it's all a matter of personal choice/your ability to lose a little bit of dignity (or not). And with $1000 on the line, I doubt many care as long as the voters like what they see.
*ahem* Anyways, welcome back Ramy. I don't particularly like this design as it's a little too abstract for me, but I'll be looking forward to your future entries.