EtherPad alternatives

After the recent outage of all etherpads, I have the feeling that one day will come that the etherpad at Mozilla will vanish completely. It’s written on the tin.

<@pir> Awaiting webops waking up. Etherpad has no support, essentially, I strongly recommend moving away from it.

Someone posted a link with alternatives to etherpad. If someone has any experience with one or a couple of them, it would be cool to know the Pros and Cons for each.

Is that problem in Etherpad itself, or that there is noone in Mozilla to maintain its operation?

It may be both, one or the other. But my initial question was “if people have knowledge with one of these products, could you share your thoughts”. Maybe I didn’t frame it correctly.

Apparently most etherpad-based solutions lack of proper updates.

I would suggest we frame this conversation around the problem we want to solve, instead of just jumping into proposing solutions.

My suggestion is to try to comment around these three questions:

  • What’s the need? Why?
  • What are the features to cover these needs?
  • Who should/can own this?

I’ve used CryptPad. But it’s the complete opposite use case of the open by design we’re perhaps seeking? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Also Parsys are in discussion on moving the alt discussion forward.

I can reply to the framing question for the webcompat team.

Meeting Minutes

One of the main usage we have is a transitory space to

  1. create the agenda of our meetings bits by bits (everyone can propose an item)
  2. write the minutes during the meeting (with a rotating scribe)
  3. have a script fetching the txt version and converting it to a wiki format

These after end up on a permanent page.

The ability to:

  • follow the discussions during scribing (important for non-native English speakers)
  • not have to register to participate
  • scribe collectively if necessary
  • collect the agenda items in an asynchronous way.

Draft/collect ideas

Having a clean URI for just drafting a simple document and/or collecting ideas about a theme.
An example of that is

Google Docs is an overkill solution for these scenario and most of the time requires to login for editing.


There is an alert right now about Etherpad unsupported that reference on

I think that we need a fast alternative because is a service that cannot be discontinued by Mozilla.
Lot of people doesn’t want to use google docs and maybe this is the time to find also an alternative to ehterpad that support comments.

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Annotations? Making me think of this for now

Adding Dropbox Paper for comparison. Came about after their acquisition of HackPad.

Build your own using Node.JS

A discussion of collab note taking in education and a template of roles required for effectiveness:

  • recorder
  • researcher
  • question catcher
  • plus - vocabulary, observations, actionables


Another open source tool “Real-time collaboration with no server code.”

Google run project. Immediate conscious chooser resistance.

Awesome list! I’d add to this:

Core needs

  • low friction to simply jump straight in
  • no end user GAFA account needs (conscious choosers require this as a minimum: optional)
  • template/agenda with collaborative flow-like conversations or annotations (often used in MoFo)
  • can handle ~100 users with ease (think Mozfest, Global Sprint, Open Leaders, webinars, All-hands, Airmo collabs)
  • FOSS << yes - “core need”
  • shareable
  • searchable

Nice to haves

  • integration with other tool api’s
    • Gsuite
    • Airtable
    • Github/Gitlab
    • Firefox acct
    • Bugzilla
    • Owncloud/Nextcloud/Framasoft
    • Discourse
    • Slack, IRC, Matrix
  • decentralized
    • ActivityPub? W3C recommndation towards standard e.g:
      • Mastodon/Pleroma (social network instances)
      • Pixelfed (image instances)
      • Funkwhale (music instances)
      • PeerTube (video instances)
    • DAT, Scuttlebutt, IPFS, SAFE Network etc.
  • scroll-back (ability to view what has changed since last seen)
  • sketches & prototyping
  • remix/versioning
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Having a simple, open, scratch pad meets many needs across the organisation, not least for meetings where agendas can be worked on collaboratively. For any temporary or non-permanent collaborative note taking where neutral ownership is preferred, Etherpad is the “go to” choice.

Its loss is going to be very sad.

Can you explain David how “not open” CryptPad is?
At least for FOSS and “simply jump in” it seems open by design.

In the core needs, I only see the flow-like annotations as being not yet there in CryptPad.

thanks in advance.


CryptPad looks cool. Only concern I would have is their funding situation. If we used them as a community standard, I would hope that we could send them some currency.

Hello @plwt,
Should you wish to support CryptPad, a campaign at opencollective has been started.

hmm actually I think the test I did months back involved us needing accounts and I could not see an “open by design”. This could have changed or I was simply wrong in my exploration.

Some of the issues we have are the fully open creation of etherpads. Having a soft sign-in method required to create pads can be helpful to guard against scripts pummeling anyone’s resources.

So the “not open” was referring to the current use of etherpads where nobody needed to sign-in. I personally don’t feel that model is sustainable and could require a cultural shift in our expectations from a service. i.e. a positive for CryptPad.

Hello David,

Fully open creation of pads by non-registered persons: That is possible. However, since it may introduce a resource problem, the pads are deleted after three months after their last access. This is the default behaviour and that of Hosted instances can tune this (deactivate, extend or reduce the expiration time). Maybeyou saw the warning of expiry and concluded the “not open”.

Sign-up on a cryptpad server is rather straightforward with very little known to the server (e.g. no email address to recover password). But using without sign-in or sign-up is definitely possible. E.g. one of our most popular pad is an iframe of a web page that is visited by dozens of new IP-addresses every day: they all can use the editing in an anonymous fashion. Since that page has been created by a registered user, it will not expire.


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Thanks so much for the clarification @polx Teams can use whichever tools work best for them but I do personally see CryptPad as a solid contender. I have a number of open office calls next week in planning for MozFest. I might use this time to give it another crack.

EDIT: Testing week commencing October 8 - Dates are TBC.