A database method and system for disseminating information to user, and for alerting users to the disseminated information, stores a plurality of parameters in association with information items. The plurality of parameters includes at least one keyword taken from a finite hierarchical set of keywords indicative of the subject matter of the information items, and a priority level value indicative of the perceived importance of the information items. The finite hierarchical set of keywords has a tree structure relating broad keywords to progressively narrower keywords. An interest profile is created for each of the users and comprises a list of keywords, selected from the finite hierarchical set, and a priority level associated with each keyword. The parameters stored in association with each information item, and the stored interest profile for that user, are compared. Each user whose interest profile matches the parameters of the information item is alerted to the presence of the matching information item.