Software Patent Abstract
In recent years, computers have become everyday communication tools,
fast approaching the commonness of telephones and televisions. Driving
this approach is the ever-expanding Internet, which enables users
not only to communicate with each other, but also to search for
information of particular interest. Two problems for Internet users
are the time and effort necessary to find information they want
and to connect with other users who share interest in similar information.
Accordingly, the present inventor devised systems, methods, and
related software that spurs growth of databases and/or fosters connections
between users of those databases. One exemplary method entails receiving
user contributions to a theme-oriented database, such as a health-information
website and granting users access rights to the database based on
quantity, quality, and/or relevance of their contributions. The
exemplary method also shares contact information with users making
similar queries of the database, ultimately promoting development
of intelligent on-line communities.
Software Patent Claims
1. A method comprising exchanging access rights to a database for
a data contribution to the database
Software Patent Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
 This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application
Ser. No. 10/103,536, filed Mar. 20, 2002, which application is a
continuation of International Application No. PCT/US00/25886 filed
Sep. 20, 2000 and published in English on Mar. 29, 2001 as Publication
No. WO 01/22292, which is a continuation of U.S. Provisional Application
60/154,885 filed on Sep. 20, 1999. All applications are incorporated
herein by reference.
COPYRIGHT NOTICE AND PERMISSION
 A portion of this patent document contains material subject
to copyright protection. The copyright owner has no objection to
the facsimile reproduction by anyone of the patent document or the
patent disclosure, as it appears in the Patent and Trademark Office
patent files or records, but otherwise reserves all copyright whatsoever.
The following notice applies to this document: Copyright.COPYRGT.
1999, Bodyl, Inc. (formerly known as MedBeat, Inc.)
 Computers have enjoyed, in recent years, an enormous growth
in utility. Early computers allowed users to perform tasks such
as word processing and bookkeeping. Today, however, computers have
become everyday communication tools, fast approaching the commonness
of telephones and televisions.
 Much of this growth in the communications realm stems from
the fantastic, compounded growth of computer networks, such as the
much-heralded Internet--a worldwide network of computers interconnected
through public and private wiring and telephone systems. The Internet
functions as a planetary communications system, enabling users to
communicate with each other, to transmit data to each other, and
to search for data of particular interest.
 One problem stemming from the rapid growth of the Internet
concerns the time and effort often necessary to find data of particular
interest. There are numerous publicly accessible search engines
that continually work to index the data on the Internet and thus
facilitate locating it. However, with the vast amounts of available
data, these search engines often answer user queries with large
amounts of irrelevant data, leaving users to spend significant time
and effort sifting through it for the data, the knowledge, they
actually want. Although combination search engines have been developed
to allow users to simultaneously use two or more search engines,
in many instances these have only presented users with even more
data to sift, thus compounding the data-finding problem.
 Another related problem is that the planetary scope of the
Internet makes it difficult for users to find and communicate with
other users who share interests in similar kinds of information.
Websites, chat rooms, and forums devoted to particular topics, such
as health, have emerged in recent years. However, the information
shared through these websites, chat rooms, and forums is too often
sparse and of poor quality, since many participants behave as spectators
and do not actively contribute information. Moreover, direct competition
between the websites, chat rooms, and discussion forums for users
generally leads to smaller, fragmented communities of users, thwarting
development of larger aggregate communities.
 Accordingly, there is a need not only to reduce the time
necessary to find particular types of data on the Internet, but
also to facilitate development of communities of active users around
specific topics and conversion of information into real knowledge.
 To address this and other problems, the present inventor
devised systems, methods, and related software for encouraging and
managing growth of databases, particularly theme-oriented databases,
such as health-information databases. One exemplary method entails
establishing a theme-oriented database and granting users access
rights to the database based on their contributions or submissions
to the database. One specific embodiment scores the contributions
based on quantity, quality, and/or relevance, granting access rights
based on the scores. Other embodiments record the queries of users
of the database and facilitate communications between users having
similar queries as well as users making similar contributions.
 Notably, various embodiments of the invention facilitate
the incorporation of user experiential data into the context of
thematic databases that make it relevant and useful, in essence
converting it to knowledge.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an exemplary theme-oriented
database-management-and-community-building system 100 incorporating
teachings of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a flow chart illustrating exemplary operation
of system 100 in FIG. 1.
 FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an exemplary home page 300
for use in system 100.
 FIG. 4 is a diagram of a list of categories linked to home
 FIG. 5 is a facsimile of another exemplary home page 400
for use in system 100.
 FIG. 6 is a block diagram of an exemplary intelligent medical
information system which can be integrated into a medical- or health-oriented
version of system 100.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
 The following detailed description, which references and
incorporates the Figures, describes and illustrates one or more
specific embodiments of the invention. These embodiments, offered
not to limit but only to exemplify and teach, are shown and described
in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to implement
or practice the invention. Thus, where appropriate to avoid obscuring
the invention, the description may omit certain information known
to those of skill in the art.
 This description includes many terms with meanings derived
from their usage in the art or from their use within the context
of the description. As a further aid, the following exemplary definitions
 The term "document" refers to any logical collection
or arrangement of machine-readable data having a filename.
 The term "database" includes any logical collection
or arrangement of machine-readable documents.
 The term "hyperlink" or "link" includes
any token conforming literally or functionally to any past, present,
or future Uniform Resource Locator (URL) standard. It also includes
any token including information identifying a specific computer
system or networked device.
Exemplary System Architecture
 FIG. 1 shows an exemplary theme-oriented database-management-and-community-building
system 100. The broken lines in the figure indicate that various
components of the system are interconnected permanently or temporarily
via a wired or wireless wide-area-network, such as the Internet,
or a secure wired or wireless local-area networks, such as a corporate
Intranet. The exemplary embodiment uses Secure Transaction Technology
to ensure secure connections. System 100 includes user access stations
110, a web server system 120, a membership database 130, and a theme-oriented
 More particularly, user access stations 110 includes one
or more access stations, of which stations 110a, 110b, and 110c
are representative. The term "access station," as used
herein, encompasses browser-equipped personal computers, network
appliances, personal digital assistants, telephones, cell phones,
web phones, televisions, web television, etc. Thus, the present
invention is not limited to any particular class or form of access
 Selectively coupled to access stations 110 is web server
system 120. Web server system 120 includes one or more software
modules 122 and one or more memory modules 124 which cooperate to
serve data to and from databases 130 and 140 and the access stations
100, and to define and generate related webpages and graphical-user
interfaces. (See, for example, exemplary home pages 300 and 500
in FIGS. 3 and 5, respectively.)
 Membership database 130 includes information regarding members
or potential members (users) of system 100. Figure shows this information
as representative records 132 and 134, which are substantially identical
in structure. In the exemplary embodiment, record 132 includes member-identification
data 132a, member-profile data 132b, member-contact or -linking
data 132c, and member-participation data 132d. Member-identification
data 132a includes data for identifying or authenticating the identity
of a user. Member-profile data 132b includes data describing the
professional biographies and credentials of the member. Member-contact
data 132c includes data, such as one or more postal addresses, telephone
numbers, e-mail addresses, or URLs for facilitating contact or communications
with the associated user. And, member-system-participation data
132d includes quantitative and qualitative information regarding
actual and permitted use of the system by each user. For instance,
the exemplary embodiment maintains one or more access scores for
each member, indicating levels of access to respective portions
of theme-oriented database 140.
 Theme-oriented database 140 includes theme data 142, site
data 144, query data 146, and user data 146. Theme data 142 includes
one or more keywords, terms, concept, or website address which define
one or more aspects of the thematic or topical content of database
140. Exemplary themes or topics includes general healthcare and
wellness information for humans or other animals, such as dogs,
cats, or fish; specific healthcare information for various parts
of the human body, such as joints (knees, hips, elbows, spine, etc.)
or organs (heart, lungs, stomach, kidney, liver, eyes, ears, skin,
etc.); specific medical conditions, such as allergies (food, plant,
etc.), cancer, arthritis, obesity, mental illness; auto-immune deficiency
(HIV). Other exemplary topics include technology breakthroughs,
health-technology breakthroughs, children, cooking, sports, entertainment,
celebrities, politics, law, restaurants, consumer products, motion
pictures, videos, music recordings, corporations, government officials,
criminal activity, schools, science, wines, beers, foods, professional
service providers (lawyers, doctors, contractors, artisans, etc.)
colleges, alumni of educational institutions, genealogy, gossip,
or sex. One exemplary health-oriented database includes user-generated
health content, medical-journal content, and an archive of health-oriented
feature stories. Thus, the present invention is not limited to any
particular theme or class of themes.
 Site data 144 includes feature articles, journal articles
and other content added to database 144 manually by its creators,
sponsors, or other parties governing or maintaining the database
or automatically by the system itself. Query data 146 includes a
listing of one or more queries (or query summaries) made by registered
users or members of the community, against the database, with each
query associated with one or more portions of the membership data
for its submitting member. User data 146 includes user contributions
to the database, with each contribution logically associated with
or appended to one or more portions of the membership data for its
 In its exemplary operation, system 100 generally enables
users not only to access, that is, query theme-oriented data in
database 110, but also to contribute data to the database. Users
earn access rights to various portions of the database. Access rights
are granted based on quality and/or relevance of database contributions
and referrals of new members to the system.
Exemplary System Operation
 More specifically, FIG. 2, which shows an exemplary flowchart
200, illustrates an exemplary method of operating system 100. Flow
chart 200 includes blocks 202-230, which are executed serially in
the exemplary embodiment. However, other embodiments of the invention
may change the order of execution and/or execute two or more blocks
in parallel using multiple processors or a single processor organized
as two or more virtual machines or subprocessors. Moreover, still
other embodiments implement the blocks as two or more specific interconnected
hardware modules with related control and data signals communicated
between and through the modules. Thus, the exemplary process flow
is applicable to software, firmware, and hardware implementations.
 The exemplary method begins at block 202, with automatically
or manually establishing an initial version of theme-oriented database
140. To this end, the exemplary method entails determining a theme
or topic and conducting one or more Internet searches to identify
a set of one or more candidate members. Exemplary candidate members
include existing websites or portions of websites related to the
theme and persons or firms with expertise or indicated interest
in the theme. The publishers of identified publications and websites
are then invited to register as members of the system. An exemplary
electronic invitation includes an explanation of the system and
a URL to the system. Execution of the exemplary method then proceeds
to block 204.
 In block 204, one or more of the candidate members establish
a communications link with the system through webserver 120. This
entails each of the candidate members using an access station, such
as access station 110, to invoke the URL to the system. For example,
the user at access station 110 would invoke "www.domain-name.com"
to connect her computer system (or other network appliance) to webserver
system 120. After establishing the link to webserver 120 execution
proceeds to block 204.
 Block 206 entails receiving registration information from
the candidate member. The registration information includes member-identification
data, member-profile data, member-contact or -linking data, and
member-system-participation data. Member-identification data includes
data for identifying or authenticating the identity of a user, such
as a username and password. Member-profile information includes
professional biographical information, such as present employment,
professional achievements, educational or other promotional type
material indicating or suggesting the authority or credibility of
the registering member in the topic. Member-contact data includes
data, such as one or more postal addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail
addresses, or URLs for facilitating contact or communications with
the associated user. Member-system-participation data includes an
access score that governs the level of access that the associated
member has over theme-oriented database 140. The exemplary system
determines an initial access score based on whether the user was
referred by an existing member, or whether the user was given a
special invitation based on his or her expertise in the theme. If
an existing member referred the user, the access score for the existing
member is increased upon registration of the new user. After all
registration information has been received for a particular member,
execution proceeds to block 208
 In block 208, the system records the received registration
information in membership database 130. Although the exemplary embodiment
maintains membership database 130 separate from theme-oriented database
140 for heightened security, some embodiments combine the databases.
With recording of the registration information, the exemplary method
advances to block 210.
 Block 210 entails the new member logging into the system
to access theme-oriented database 140. Specifically, this entails
the new (or an existing) member manually or automatically entering
a username and password. (Existing members bypass blocks 202-208
to reach block 210) The username and password are then verified
against those in membership database 130. Affirmative verification
advances the exemplary method to block 212.
 In block 212, the system presents the member a home page
for theme-oriented database 140. (See FIG. 3 and related description
of exemplary home page.) From the home page, the member decides
to query database 140 or to contribute data to database 140 as indicated
by decision block 214.
 A member decision to make a contribution to the database
branches execution to block 216, which entails receiving a contribution
from the member. Execution then continues to block 218.
 In block 218, the system evaluates or scores the contribution
based on its quality and/or relevance to the theme-oriented content
of database 140. To evaluate the contribution, the exemplary embodiment
converts the contribution to a natural-language query and executes
this query against all or part of database 140. The natural-language
searching algorithm produces quantitative measures of the relevance
of the contribution. Other embodiments produce the measures using
inverse-document-frequencies factors that favor rare terms and/or
frequency factors which favor terms that in the document to be scored.
In some embodiments, the contribution is summarized using specialized
software, such as that described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,708,825, entitled
Automatic Summary Page Creation and Hyperlink Generation, which
is incorporated herein by reference. Other embodiments score the
contribution based on additional factors, including for example,
length (number of words), number of citations to leading journals,
inclusion of hyperlinks to predetermined cites (such as sponsors
of the system) and/or grammar. Still other embodiments score the
contributions manually using an editorial board of experts in the
 Execution then continues at decision block 220, where the
system determines if the evaluation was good or not. That is, is
the contribution of sufficient relevance and quality to be added
to database 140. If the contribution has a good evaluation, based
for example on its score exceeding some threshold value, the system
proceeds to block 222.
 In block 222, the system adds the contribution to database
140. In the exemplary embodiment, this entails appending the username
along with one or more portions of the member's member-profile information
and/or member-contact information to the beginning and/or end of
the contribution. (Some embodiments use a side by side presentation
approach for the contribution and its attribution.) Thus, other
members accessing this information can identify its contributing
member and assess credibility and authority of the contribution.
Moreover, if a contributing member has elected to allow publication
of its contact information, such as its e-mail address, future users
of the information may establish communications with the contributor.
Publication of a hyperlink or URL associated with the contributor
will offer opportunities for reciprocal web traffic from webserver
120 to a webserver associated with the contributing member, creating
an incentive for further contributions to the theme-oriented database.
 In block 224, after adding the contribution to database
140, the system updates the access score portion of the participation
data for the member based on the score of the contribution. In the
exemplary embodiment, this entails adding the score of the contribution
to the initial or previous access score in membership database 130.
However, other embodiments adopt other forms of update.
 In block 226, the system offers the contributing member
an opportunity to connect with one or more other members who have
made similar contributions to database 140. In the exemplary embodiment,
this entails defining a query based on the contribution and executing
this query against the user data portion of database 140, more precisely
user data 149. Based on the results of this query, the exemplary
embodiment presents one or more usernames and related contact or
biographical information for other members who have made similar
contributions to the database, thereby facilitating communications
between the contributing member and other contributing members.
 On the other hand, if the contribution had a poor evaluation
based on the threshold, execution proceeds to block 228 which outputs
a message to the member indicating that the contribution was rejected.
Some embodiments may offer an explanation for the rejection, and
others refer the member to an alternate system with an appropriate
theme for receiving the information. Still others reroute the contribution
to the alternate system, automatically enrolling the member in the
alternate system by transferring a copy of the associated membership
information. After rejecting the data, execution returns to decision
block 214, where the member can choose to add new data or to submit
a query for database 140.
 From block 214, a decision to query database 140 branches
execution to block 230, which entails receiving a query from the
member. Although the scope of the invention encompasses queries
of any number of forms, the exemplary embodiment accepts queries
as a textual string with boolean connectors or as a natural-language
query. (Moreover, the exemplary embodiment permits the member to
restrict the query to specific portions of theme-oriented database
140, such as to site data or user data.) Execution of the exemplary
method then proceeds to block 232.
 In block 232, the system executes the query against database
140. In the exemplary embodiment, this entails running the query
against the entirety of database 140. However, some embodiments
restrict the query to one or more portions of database 140.
 In block 234, the system presents query results to webserver
120 for viewing by the member through an access station. The exemplary
embodiment presents the query results based not only on the query
and the contents of database 140, but also on the access score for
the member. Thus, for example, a low access score may result in
all or a portion of the results being withheld from the member.
Some embodiments advise the member quantitatively regarding the
withheld portion of the results. For example, the system presents
a message that a certain percentage of the results is withheld.
Other embodiments present citations for the portions being withheld
to assist the member in determining the desirability of this withheld
information. Variations of this approach may present the profile
of the contributors of the withheld results.
 In presenting the results to the requesting member, the
exemplary system arranges or organizes the results based not only
on relevance to the query presented but also on factors, such as
the access rights of the respective contributors of data to the
system. Thus, for example, data contributions from contributors
that have accrued relatively high access rights are generally presented
before data contributions from contributors with relatively lower
access rights, assuming the contribution are of approximately equal
relevance to the query. This presentation mechanism further encourages
members, particularly those with related websites, to contribute
content to the database.
 Some embodiments present the results in a predetermined
order based on the portions of the database that contain them. For
example, one embodiment presents found data in the order of feature
articles, user contributions, and journal articles, with the items
in each category arranged based on relevance and/or access rights
of respective contributors.
 In block 236, the system stores the query and associated
member-profile and/or member-contact information to the query portion
of database 140. Once stored in database 140, the query is searched
like any other content within the database. When query results include
one or more queries the queries are presented along with the usernames
associated with the queries.
 In block 238, after storing the query, the system offers
the contributing member an opportunity to connect with one or more
other members who have made similar queries of database 140. In
the exemplary embodiment, this entails defining a query based on
the query and executing this query against the query data portion
of database 140, more precisely user data 146. Based on the results
of this query, the exemplary embodiment presents one or more usernames
and related contact or biographical information for other members
who have made similar contributions to the database, thereby facilitating
communications between the member and other members with similar
queries. Of course, the member then has the option to contact one
or more of the other members. Other embodiments also presents the
member options to connect with members who have published information
relating to the query or to allow other members with similar questions
to contact her in the future.
Exemplary Home Pages
 FIG. 3 shows an exemplary home (or start) page 300 generated
by webserver system 120 for display in response to authorized access
to health-oriented version of database 140. Home page 300 includes
banner advertising regions 310 and 312, a site logo region 314,
information region 316, a search region 318, a feature-content region
320, a sponsorship or partnership region 322, and link region 324.
 Information region 316 includes a link 316a to a list 120
of links to categories of medical conditions and health areas. This
list of links is shown in FIG. 4 as table 400. Each category link
takes the user to archived content, user-contributed content, relevant
site-generated top-ten lists, and links or phone number for groups,
hospitals and doctors that specialize in the condition. (Some embodiments
allow users to restrict the information based on geography.) Information
region 316 also includes a donor or contribution subregion 316b
where users have the opportunity to publish useful health and medical
information, and a site top-ten region 316c where users cast votes
on their favorite products, services, and advice.
 Search region 318 accepts entry of keyword or natural-language
style queries. Submitted queries are executed against user-generated
content, medical journal content, and site-created editorial content
in database 140. In embodiments that associate, health-oriented
database 140 with other theme-oriented databases, such as a knee
database, a veins database, and a medical-technology database, search
region 318 enables users to search across all or a subset of the
 Feature-content region 320, in the exemplary embodiment,
changes daily and includes health-related stories, of for example
600 words. This region presents users an opportunity to add comments
and/or contribute information at the end of the story in a user
subregion 320a, below the story. User subregion 320a includes prompts
(not shown) urging users to submit story-relevant information about
local support groups and hospitals in their areas.
 Sponsorship or partnership region 322 includes links to
one or more nationally-recognized e-commerce or pharmaceutical companies.
Exemplary commerce partners include an on-line drugstore, a baby-and-children
products store, an online book retailer, and a vitamins-nutraceutical
 Link region 324 includes one or more links to other general
health or medical sites. Exemplary sites include a site for first-aid
information and government health sites.
 FIG. 5 shows another exemplary home page 500. Home page
500 includes many features analogous to those in home page 300.
Exemplary Medical-Information System
 FIG. 6 shows an exemplary medical-information system 600
which can be integrated into system 100 of FIG. 1, as software,
hardware, or firmware modules. System 600 includes a user-registration-and-tracking
module 602, an initial-symptom-and-medical-history-dialog module
604, a condition-inference engine 606, a condition-hyperlink generator
608, a followup-dialog module 610, a knowledge-base-feedback module
612, and a user-comments module 614.
 User-registration-and-tracking module 602 receives user
or member registration or membership information and assigns the
username and password. Alternatively, the user can define her own
username and password. Exemplary registration or membership information
includes the gender and date of birth of the user. The registration
information is stored in a database such as database 130 in system
100. The registration data is available for retrieval during subsequent
user visits and for other operations of system 600, such as knowledge
 Initial-symptom-and-medical-history-dialog module 604 assigns
a case number, specific to the username as it begins receiving an
initial description of symptoms through a natural-language interface.
A parser (not shown) attempts to extract one or more symptoms from
the initial description. The user is then asked to confirm the one
or more parsed symptoms. If a symptom cannot be parsed, a form-based
interface is presented to the user, with a prompt to select a symptom
from a pick list. Pick lists are subdivided, based on symptom categories.
Based on the one or more extracted symptoms, the user is lead through
a series of yes-no dialogs to aid in determining one or more conditions
that may be causing the symptom.
 Condition-inference engine 606 receives the yes-no answers
from initial-symptom module 604 and develops a list of one or more
potential conditions, ranked by probability or frequency. In the
exemplary embodiment, the condition-inference engine uses rules
stored in a database, rather than hard-coded rules, to facilitate
maintenance and automatic modification based on experience with
 Condition-hyperlink generator 608 accepts output from the
condition-inference engine, in the form of a list of medical conditions.
For each condition, generator 608 produces a short description of
the condition and an HTML page of hyperlinks appropriate to the
condition, including articles about the condition, potential treatments,
effectiveness of treatments, side effects of treatments, prognosis,
survival rates, specialists, support groups.
 Followup dialog module 610 asks the user questions based
on the username and case number. Questions are also based on data
from the initial symptoms dialog and results from the condition-inference
engine. Exemplary questions include whether the user visited a doctor,
and if so, what diagnosis was given. In the exemplary embodiment,
the followup dialog module includes a natural-language interface.
However, in other embodiments, the followup dialog module includes
a dynamically generated HTML form, with appropriate use of pick
lists, radio buttons, check boxes, and text-entry fields.
 Knowledge-base feedback module 612 uses information gained
in the followup dialog to enhance the knowledge base used in the
condition-inference engine. In particular, diagnosis by doctors
shall be used to enhance the probability ranking of conditions.
 User-comment module 614 accepts comments from users about
conditions, treatments, and side effects noted from followup dialog.
These comments are extracted from the followup dialog, stored in
a database, and made accessible to other users.
 An exemplary operational scenario for system 600 proceeds
as follows. A user logs into the system and registers as a first
time user, filling out a form identifying her gender and date of
birth. The system asks the users, "How can I help you today?"
The user types, in natural language, "My wife and I are having
trouble getting pregnant." The system replies, "I understand
that you and your wife are having trouble conceiving. Is that correct?"
The user replies, "Yes." The system asks, "Have you
seen a doctor about your condition?" The user replies, "No."
The system asks, "Have you been trying to get pregnant for
more than one year?" Users says, "Yes," and the system
"Did you suffer from mumps after the age of 12?" User
says, "No," and system asks "Are you physically unfit
or on a weight reducing diet?" User says, "No." IMIS
asks, "Do you have sex less than 3 times a week, on average?"
User says, "Yes." System says, "Infrequent sex may
be the cause of your condition," and adding "Here are
other leading causes of infertility for people your age: 1) Low-sperm
count in the male; 2) Blocked fallopian tubes in the female; and
3) Chronic pelvic infection in female. Further, the system communicates
that "it cannot perform a physical exam and cannot diagnose
your condition. Only a doctor can diagnose your condition. Would
you like more information about these conditions?" User replies,
 In response, the system outputs or presents a hyperlinked
page of condition descriptions, treatments for each condition, success
rates for each treatment, specialists in infertility, and infertility
support groups. At the top of the page, the system communicates:
"If you visit a doctor and are diagnosed, please come back
for another visit."
 Six months later, the user logs on to the system. The system
recognizing the username and its associated case number, communicates:
"Welcome back. Can I ask the status of your situation with
infertility?" User replies, "Yes, my wife and I are now
pregnant." System says, "Congratulations! Did you visit
a doctor to be diagnosed? User says, "Yes, the doctor performed
tests on both me and my wife. No obvious problem was found; he recommended
that we buy a basal thermometer and use it. After two months, we
got pregnant." System says "Where did you buy your basal
thermometer?" User says, "On the web, from drugstore.com."
 The system says, "Thank you for your input. I'll add
your comments about basal thermometers to my database. Your input
may help other couples that are having problems with fertility.
Is there anything else I can help you with today?" User says,
"No, that's all for now." The system says, "Thanks
again for your help. I'm going to e-mail you free coupons for baby
formula and diapers. Visit me again if you need info about child
 In furtherance of the art, the inventor has presented systems,
methods, and related software for encouraging and managing growth
of databases, particularly theme-oriented databases. One exemplary
method entails establishing a health-oriented database and granting
users access rights to the database based on their contributions
or submissions to the database. The exemplary method scores the
contributions for quality and/or relevance, granting access rights
based on the scores to contributors. Other embodiments record the
queries of users of the database and facilitate communications between
users having similar queries. Thus, the exemplary method and related
systems and software facilitate not only organized growth of a theme-oriented
database, but also developing relationships between users of the
 The embodiments described above are intended only to illustrate
and teach one or more ways of practicing or implementing the present
invention, not to restrict its breadth or scope. The actual scope
of the invention, which embraces all ways of practicing or implementing
the concepts of the invention, is defined only by the following
claims and their equivalents.