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I'm about to (re)start an effort to collaboratively create a complete world. I'm afraid most ideas would be mine, but I really want it to be open for others to contribute.

I'm seeking for an Internet-based platform (most preferrably via browser) to do that.

So far I can think on a wiki and on Kune, but I need something that is really easy to use, and that can give a formatted book as an output (not necessarily in an automated fashion).

Required functionality is:

  1. Collaborative

  2. Web based

  3. Ability to include texts and images (maps and illustrations)

  4. Easy to use

  5. Somehow secure (not allowing a bad-faithed collaborator to delete all contributed material)

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    $\begingroup$ Related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/499/… $\endgroup$ – Liath Oct 29 '14 at 9:22
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    $\begingroup$ We are actually working on something similar with google docs right now. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/17796/collaborative-shared-worlds $\endgroup$ – James Oct 29 '14 at 14:30
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    $\begingroup$ Envite please elaborate on functionality. I.e. What functionality do you want? When you ask for "Best" that becomes something that is in the opinion of the person answering. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 29 '14 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Liath Yes, it is related to 499, but not the same. This is about collaboration, not one person work. $\endgroup$ – Envite Oct 29 '14 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ @Liath I know :) $\endgroup$ – Envite Oct 29 '14 at 21:04
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I suggest to use some concurrent versioning system like CVS, SVN or GIT. These are used by software developers to write program texts and are freely and readily available on GitHub, for instance. They already support all needed security and can be quite user friendly (see overview of user friendly interfaces).

They allow to setup the following development process:

  1. A new contributor makes a branch (new version) of the mainstream (trunk) World description that has some text added, removed or changed.
  2. A contributor opens pull request, maybe additionally describing that changes are made, and why.
  3. This pull request is visible on the web in a diff format (only showing that has been changed). This allows to view and review differences very efficiently, without the need to read through lots on unchanged material where changed parts may be overlooked.
  4. If community agrees that changes are good, a branch can be merged into trunk.

Normally there are many pull requests opened and under discussion at the same time.

The most important feature of these versioning systems is that multiple contributors can make changes in parallel inside the same text document, as long as changed parts do not overlap. If one pull request contains rewrites near beginning and another near the end, these can be submitted, discussed and merged or rejected independently, in any sequence.

Merging is only supported for the plain text. Versioning systems also support binary files like images, but cannot merge multiple independent changes, the latest version just overrides all others.

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    $\begingroup$ Very interesting. Does not fit the requirement of "web based" but is a very good idea, indeed. $\endgroup$ – Envite Nov 3 '14 at 14:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Envite If you take the example of GitHub you can actually edit your text documents directly in the browser. I believe the same is true for other Git platforms (e.g. the self-hosted GitLab). $\endgroup$ – hsan Nov 4 '14 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ If you've ever looked at the edit log for a post here, you've seen something similar. The site keeps track of who did what when and exactly what was changed. If a non-privileged user makes a change it has to be approved by the original author. Version Control just lets you maintain an assortment of documents, not just one post. $\endgroup$ – bendl Dec 29 '17 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ Great Idea, I use github and SVN everyday. $\endgroup$ – ArtisticPhoenix Jan 29 '18 at 9:59
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While asking a similar question myself someone recommended DokuWiki and I've been using it almost exclusively since.

  • It's a wiki format so it's easy to add formatted information/images
  • You can install it on a website, pendrive or Dropbox and grant access to just your collaborators
  • Pages/links make your documents much more structured than a shared single document
  • It supports versioning of pages you've edited
  • It's free
  • It supports its own user account (if Dropbox security isn't enough for you)

Personally I would recommend downloading the pen drive version and copying it to Dropbox, you could always arrange hosting somewhere but it would be more complex and probably end up costing money (unless you want to simply grant access to everyone and use something like wikia).

In short I agree wikis are a great way to go.

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    $\begingroup$ Following this advice, I've suggested we try DokuWiki for our collaborative worldbuilding experiment. Hopefully the results will be useful as an example for anyone considering a similar project. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Nov 10 '14 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand how we can use dokuwiki inside a dropbox. I tried but noting is working. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Nov 25 '14 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Vincent I used the dokuwiki for a stick installer and simply installed it in the Dropbox folder instead of a pen drive dokuwiki.org/install:dokuwiki_on_a_stick $\endgroup$ – Liath Nov 26 '14 at 6:24
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GoVisually is a possibility.

You can mark annotations and place comments on any part of your project, and there is this pretty cool feature where you can click on each user and it will hide or display relevant content, so if you think some user is just trolling around you can ban him. Revisions can also be easily upload and it's simple to switch between different versions of the same document or project.

And I'm not entirely sure, but I think it's still free.

Here's a promotional video I found on google: Video

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There is no such thing, yet

to even make something like this would require there to be some way to format/organize this. As far as I know Ive never heard of a standardized structure to world building and if there is it must be annoyingly complicated and overly rigid.

Thus at this point you gotta use some kind of generic collaborative document generation tool.......like google docs.

Great thing about google docs is it has version history so if someone flips the table on your project you can just revert their changes.

1.Collaborative

google docs

2.Web based

google docs

3.Ability to include texts and images (maps and illustrations)

google docs

4.Easy to use

google docs is a google product, just about one of the few companies with a significant track record on ease of use.

5.Somehow secure (not allowing a bad-faith collaborator delete all contributed material)

on google docs you can whitelist your contributors preventing some troll from showing up and wrecking everything. You can also revert changes using the revision history.

and that can give a formatted book as an output

Sure google docs can do that too....though again the formatting is going to be on you.


I only suggest this next thought because it would be such a proper, fun even, way to really collaboratively attack building a world.

Now if you want a real approach to collaboratively building a world. You can repurpose an agile tool like JIRA, plot your high level target world ideals as epics and pose research questions as stories that you pass off to willing team mates that link to a google doc where the answer is built.

This way you organize and distribute your world building in a trackable way. providing this kind of structure would actually stimulate and focus collaborative effort. The down side is if you are unfamiliar with agile and agile tools this would be a pain in the ass to figure out.

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If you just want a document that others can easily edit, a shared Google Drive document might do. Just be wary of people going in and deleting everything (don't give the public full access, only your collaborators).

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