Upload & Sell: On
You took the high road, which I would have bet on. That's the state of photography everywhere, maybe not to the degree you see it there at home, but digital has ushered in a sloppiness to the capture phase of photography, much the way texting has murdered grammar and punctuation, only in our trade the thought is "I can fix it later."
I've never understood what wins in these competitions, but I just chalked it up to my limited artistic knowledge and vision. I'm sure I would walk through the most wonderful museums of art, scratching my head most of the time. Add to that the fact that people have caught on to paid competitions (the promoters), and figured out that they can make a wheel barrow full of money charging entry fees, and even per entry fees. The only expense they have in it is the promotion, I'm sure the prizes are gimme's from sponsors.
The fact that someone asked you about your skies indicates to me their complete lack of a grasp on our passion. No matter how well a sky is dropped in, most generally you can tell it has been. Continue to do what you do for the reasons you do it, you'll be much better off in the short and long run, as will we, because your images are beautiful.