Dribbble’s position on spec work:
Dribbble’s inbox is filled with requests from companies wanting to run contests that leverage the creative pool to crowdsource their product needs. We tell them about spec work and let them know it’s not allowed on Dribbble.
In engineering – a similar value-creation industry – spec work is like asking a bunch of consultancies to build a significant chuck of your idea for free, under the guise of “an evaluation”. Or just imagine a 99designs for code libraries.
In such a world, the consultant optimizes for volume at the expense of quality, since unselected work costs time. The client ends up choosing from crappy solutions, without even realizing it. This just creates a lose-lose situation for everyone. That’s why it’s unheard of.
Spec work is a concept that fails the test of reality. I don’t understand how spec work in the design industry should ever be considered acceptable, and I do hope that more take a stand like Dribbble has.