I'm looking for a web app for small collaboration with close to plain text documents. My requirements:

  • I don't want real-time collaboration; that messes with my workflow (the textareas are heavily scriptified, hard to outsource the editing process to vim).
  • The content is not top secret but the preference is to keep the notes nonpublic.
  • A graphical and easy-to-handle conflict resolution would be a big pro for the nontechnical folks in this.

Otherwise we'd probably use bitbucket for a private repo...

For generality's sake:

  • we would be talking about one unicode text file of from tens up to a thousand lines
  • the amount collaboration varies. Perhaps typically once a day for some writers, once a week for others. Having the conflict resolution would clear any of the risks involved.
  • One file / "bin" per collaborator doesn't do.
  • A text wiki would probably handle the requirements but none of that would be really needed. I have used PMwiki once for this kind of job but it's got its bloat and we don't have any PHP hosting.
  • No need to export or import anything. Just text, that can be trivially exported.

Github Gists would be ideal if only it allowed others to edit my private gists.

Note: the initial need for this is so small, I wouldn't wish to subscribe to any host plans just for this. Something offered as a service it is.


3 Answers 3


It's possible that Simplenote will fulfill the requirements, which I make it are these:

  • Yes Yes, allows collaboration on (basically) plain-text documents (it can use Markown, too).

  • Yes Yes, there is version control (roll back to previous versions).

  • Yes Yes, notes are non-public.

  • No No, it does require sign-up, but that is trivial and if it works well, would be worth it (OP: "I wouldn't wish to subscribe to any host plans just for this.").

  • Bonus! Cross-platform with native apps for all major OS's (large and small devices).

  • Note Note, document size ("from tens up to a thousand lines") could be an issue: the Simplenote help (linked) says:

    You can create very long notes if you absolutely have to, but we don’t recommend making notes longer than several thousand words.

Still, Simplenote seems to me to be a promising solution to OP's requirements as posted (three years ago, as I submit this reply!).


I ended with setting up a private Bitbucket repo where we (3 collaborators) edit a markdown file. The conflicts do occur but in general it's been very manageable.

Bitbucket also offers project wiki with the repo but we didn't actually explore that because everyone was satisfied with the one main file in the end. This wiki could be an answer for a larger user base out there. Maybe the ticketing system is useful too, depending on the use case.


A Wikipedia user page or a free wikia account offers an excellent solution for small needs if you don't mind the lack of privacy. The conflict resolution in MediaWiki is great, and the pages can be edited in plain text or WYSIWYG (although I recommended against using it, people used it. Didn't hurt that much.)

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