interesting. i hadn't really thought of submitting anything in the near future, but this makes me want to try. so, i wandered over to their submission guidelines and it sparked a question.
Although we employ common sense in dealing with edge cases (translations, significant expansions, etc.), “original” means “not previously published.”
does entering our monthly writing contest qualify as "previously published"?
I wonder as well. I think it's fine so long as it isn't published on the main website. It's like, what if you worked on your story in your online writing group? That shouldn't count.
More problematic if your story won the contest, since you're meant to get published on the website. I assume though, that FF wouldn't be too reluctant to give a link to Tor, instead of publishing themselves. Having forum members who get published on tor.com can't be bad.
From what I understand of how publishing rights work, any story entered in the Fantasy-Faction writing contest DOES count as publication (in this case, self-pub) because it can be found via Google. So if you really liked a story you entered here, and tried to submit it somewhere else, you certainly could, but if you pitch it as "previously unpublished" it could get you in trouble. I actually enjoy the writing contest so much I've started publishing my stories on my own blog, just for the fun of it, since I know they aren't publishable anywhere else except as a reprint.
Writer's groups, in general, are an exception, IF they are password protected. So if you're posting stuff to the F-F writing group, for example, I think you're fine, because the only way you can see that material is if you are logged in to the F-F forums and have been given special permission to view the Writer's Group sub-forum. Many online writer's groups use this, and thus avoid work posted there counting as "published".
But, since the main F-F forums are Google searchable, and the F-F writing contests are visible to everyone, any story you post there, whether it wins the contest or not, would likely be arguably "published". If your story wins the contest and gets published on the main site, of course, it's definitely published.
Of course, let's say your 1,500 word experiment inspires a longer story ... you take it and expand it, or make it one scene of a longer story, or rewrite it with the same idea. That would count as a new story, and you could attempt to sell first publication rights to that without issue.
Internet publication rights are always a bit iffy, but my belief is that anything submitted to a F-F Writing Contest, whether it wins or not, will be considered published.