Are Google Docs or Zoho good internal knowledge-base solutions for a startup?


I've seen wikis, sharepoint, version control systems, and plain-old file systems act as knowledge-base solutions for company employees to share information. Has anybody used Google Docs (or Google Apps) or in this fashion? What are some of the pros / cons?


asked Sep 12 '10 at 15:23
Javid Jamae
347 points

4 Answers


"A good documentation repository that just works." It's one of those evergreen needs that never seem to have a great solution; at least I still haven't found anything 'perfect'.

I tried Google docs, and it did not work for me. Too slow to use, poor hyperlinking architecture to reference things in other documents. Google Sites is better, but not exactly good either -- too awkward and inflexible for 'wiki' style use.

Dror mentions Confluence, and it is a good option. It's certainly very capable and can 'scale' with your growth to a near-unlimited size. But Atlassians products just all have not-so-intuitive user interfaces (to me), and require a good deal of customization to really perform at their best.

Fogbugz ' wiki is rumored to get a overhaul in the next version of Fogbugz. Then it might be worth checking out; the current version isn't too great IMHO. The nice thing about Fogbugz is that it has a suite of version control, bugtracking, code review, and wiki all fitted together.

For my tastes, right now the best options are self-hosted MoinMoin, DokuWiki or MediaWiki, depending on your taste and which wikis you have prior training with.

answered Sep 12 '10 at 21:46
Jesper Mortensen
15,292 points
  • +1 for being the best answer so far, but I'm more interested in hearing about the pros/cons of Google docs than other options. I disagree that Google Docs is "slow to use". I've always had fast performance when accessing the site, and I can create structured documents bullet points, lists, tables, etc. *much* faster in Google Docs than I can in *any* wiki I've tried to date. Yes, the linking definitely lacks, but the search is good (unlike most wikis I've used), and you can structure documents in folders, so there is some trade off.. – Javid Jamae 13 years ago
  • @Javid Jamae: Sorry mate, don't think I can help you better. We apparently have different tastes; I looked at Google docs for "intranet" usage, didn't like it, moved on. I agree about Google Doc's search being good, and usually bad in other wikis. With wikis, I have usually taken the time to learn the wiki engine ASCII syntax for making bullet lists etc. In addition to the criteria you mentioned yourself, you could consider linking to specific bug reports from the wiki, document revision history, and RSS feeds / "what's changed" widgets, and email integration as criteria. – Jesper Mortensen 13 years ago


Google Docs is useless as an internal knowledge base. Cumbersome to use. Poor linking between documents. Heavy weight. Versioning is not straightforward. Search is probably decent but we never used it enough to know.

We use Trac's wiki (we're a software company), but I'd consider MediaWiki. These both do all of the things well that are mentioned above. Search is good enough for our needs. The only problem with these kind of solutions is that you have to self-host. (Unless there's a MediaWiki hosting provider, but I don't know of any.)

answered Sep 22 '10 at 09:44
422 points
  • How about something to back your opinion. – Javid Jamae 13 years ago


If the choice is between Google docs and Zoho, I would recommend Google docs because you can build a rough site around your docs using Google sites. This way, you can have a basic "browsing" experience for when new hires or team members join, but the search functionality of Googles will still be available to you.

answered Sep 23 '10 at 00:17
221 points


I've used Google docs, but not as a replacement for a wiki. It doesn't provide the structured nature that wikis do.

For a startup, you can go for the $10 confluence solution, which lets you use it for up to 10 people. I've used Confluence, and it's a good product, and even when you go beyond 10 people the prices are reasonable. The only down side is that you need to host it yourself.

answered Sep 12 '10 at 16:45
1,833 points

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