While majority of the respondents would consider and rely on the WSF web-site (Annex 1) as a primary source of information, their engagement with the web-site shows a curvilinear path, i.e most of them access the site close to the event (Annex 2) or to get main information about the agenda, venues and programme of the forum. Other than that, it shows scarcity of engagement and general lack of interest in visiting the WSF site.

Following is an observational analysis of the site in further support of the findings.

Format and Appearance

  • Regarding the basic design aspects of layout, graphic use and general attractiveness the site bears a sanitized, corporate look rather than a welcoming, friendlier, motivational interface of a social movement trying to configure another world representing globalization-from-below.

  • The dominance of Portuguese language takes away the instinctive universal appeal of the site highlighting the drawbacks in presentation, translation and editing control interface, although there are options of switching to another language (English) interface. However, most of the documents are still in Portuguese.

  • The organization of the site is not that easy to figure out. The navigation buttons are not too explicit to prompt effective search and one has to navigate through several pages to find the information.


  • Regarding usefulness and user-friendliness, the site does not bear positive functional attributes. It takes a while to get used to the interface to search for relevant information, which is a drawback in relation to a properly executable functional site.

  • The most important feature of ‘interactivity' is missing. It is a ‘non-participatory' (Gieuseppe, 2005 an interview respondent) interface and does not encourage two-way or multiple-way interaction as is now possible with the use of ‘Wiki', ‘open publishing' and ‘online conferencing' software.

  • Considering the significance of the WSF as an ‘open meeting place', the web site is exactly an opposite of this concept. It is a one-way, static and non-discursive representation of information about the WSF, which does not even offer a simple interface of discussion forum. This makes it information driven with no possibility of feedback or participatory incentives.

Context, Coverage and Information

  • Regarding the context and coverage, in spite of loads of archives in terms of history and organizational memory of the WSF and reports with academic as well as popular feel, it is not clear at all, what is the purpose of the site and what major disciplines, fields or topics does the documentation on the site cover?

  • Several questions surface: Is it a site meant to cover each event only? Who are its audience? Does it cater to general public, academic community, development practitioners, social movements' specialists, activists or all of them? Is it only meant for the participants of the Forum or to document and archive information? Is it an advocacy site or a call for action?

  • Links to other sites are only restricted to the sites that agree with the WSF. The information, context and coverage do not prompt critical engagement with the online literature and objective participation from audience which is a drawback and needs to be amended.


Copyrights © 2005 Sumaira Sagheer Toor
Masters Dissertation, MA in Global Media and Postnational Communication, School of Oriental and African Studies, London