In this study, I explore the role of metaphor in shaping web-based e-governance portals. Specifically I analyze how a seemingly diverse set of portals is underpinned by a limited number of root metaphors, and how these metaphors are enacted through combinations of discursive resources and strategies. I then analyze the implications of specific metaphors on participation. I do this through a case study of the Development Gateway, a multimillion-dollar, multi-stakeholder web-based portal initiated by the World Bank, which has as one of its main features a set of 52 “Country Gateways”, each one a site set up by a different country, yet all established under the same mandate of using information technology for sustainable development. I use discourse analytic techniques to analyze these websites’ words, visuals, and interactivity resources, using a framework of 21 categories broken down into 84 sub-questions. I find that there are three root metaphors underpinning these portals: the metaphors of community, expert, and market. I note that a single metaphor can be enacted in different ways; for example, multiple portals underpinned the “expert” metaphor can nevertheless end up playing significantly different roles. I then examine the implications of these roles on the process of participation.