Free hosting options for collaborative fiction?

edited August 2008 in Story Games
Since I'm a glutton for punishment and a connoisseur of abject disappointment, I'm thinking of starting up another online collaborative writing/freeform RPG project with some folks I've played with in several similar, horribly failed projects in the past. These are some great writers and all-around good people but my God are we good at endlessly discussing crap in lieu of doing any actual writing.

In an effort to forestall the weeks of discussion we got bogged down in last time concerning the technical end of things (which basically boiled down to "Wow, Ron, thanks for setting up this wiki for us! It's really great! By the way, do you think you could do us a tiny favor and make everything completely different?"), I want to have all the hosting stuff sorted out well in advance of actually contacting anyone else and asking if they want to play again.

So I'm looking for some kind of hosting option, whether it be a blog, a wiki, a forum, or something I've never heard of before, that satisfies these requirements:

* Free. I can face the inevitable existential despair of yet another exciting project spiraling down the drain, I just don't want any money spiraling down after it.
* It's private. Apparently, the group made up of Internet super-spies who live in mortal terror of any words they type ever being Googled. Also, on a more practical note, in one of our past games we had problems with some random dude who kept showing up and posting creepy bondage fantasies.
* It allows multiple usernames with one email address. Most of these people have this character-ownership fetish going on where they absolutely have to see some form of "posted by:" followed by their character name, and they're going to want to be able to do that with multiple characters. I really don't want to have to tell them to make up a bunch of extra Yahoo or Gmail accounts just to do that.
* It allows posts to appear in chronological order. We're all boring old dead-tree traditionalists who think that the new parts of a story should be below the old parts. All of the free blog hosts I've looked at so far don't allow that option.

Bonus points for:

* A non-ugly URL. I don't know if any of the other players mind seeing "" in their address bars, but it grates on my nerves.
* The almost certainly inevitable ad banners at least don't flash, make noise, or contain boobies.

Can anyone help me find a home for this latest doomed endeavor?


  • IIRC PBWikis can be private, so... check it out: I don't know if it satisfies all your requirements.

  • what about Google Docs? it can be used privated by multiple people, I believe... I've never used it before though, so I don't know anything much. it's possible it doesn't meet any of your other requirements and if so, sorry.
  • Oh, yeah... google docs would work.

    Also, abicollab: Abiword is a nice light word processor, and can link up to a site, allowing the LIVE editing of the same document with other people, with each contributor identified as a different color.

    A nice video showcasing it (in OGG: use VLC if on windows)

    In beta, but working.
  • This is the sort of thing wikis are made for.

  • Wiki was made for chronological posting? I mean, you can do that, but it seems awkward. If I'm reading Ron right, he's not looking into things that multiple users can edit like Wikis and Google Docs. Is that a requirement?

    If not, I'd say Yahoo! Groups. You'll have some ad banners, but it's not too intrusive and pretty functional. The biggest win, I think, is that you can set up a bunch of aliases using not just the same email but the same login. In your user settings, you can have a variety of names appear when you post a message. These are persistent to your account, not just the group. So it might get unweildy if you were participating in two or more groups this way. I'm not sure if there's a limit either.
  • Ron, do you have any background with programming at all? Because there are environments out there that make custom apps easier to build and host than they've ever been. I like AppJet - it lets you build server-side custom apps in JavaScript - and I happen to have made a reference wiki that can be cloned and customized.
  • The biggest win, I think, is that you can set up a bunch of aliases using not just the same email but the same login. In your user settings, you can have a variety of names appear when you post a message
    I was not aware of this capability. Neat. I wonder if Google Groups has the same capability...
  • Posted By: WolfeI wonder if Google Groups has the same capability...
    Yes, but it's a bit more effort than Yahoo (I own a group or two in both services). You can change what your "User Name" looks like, even as you keep the same single Gmail account logged in. You just go to Edit My Membership and change the name in the field at the bottom.

    And Google Groups have no ads, and you can even edit/remove the auto-added footer (unlike Yahoo). Add to that the functionality of multiple shared Calendars (to, say, manage posting deadline reminders and meet-ups) and I'd say it dominates over Yahoo for this particular function. And you can STILL use Google Docs, sharing them with only those whom you want to see them (while also being able to publish them, if you want the public to read along without interfering).

    Go with Google... it will set you free. ;)
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