In computer programming, most inventions are mainly ideas, as they can be implemented in thousands ways. Is it possible and how to patent an idea?
For example, the badges of Stack Exchange are based on an idea how to give score to members based on their particular activities. How to /detect/calculate/store scores is not something special, but the idea is brilliant to motivate people for more activities.
Most of Web 2.0 interactive features are merely based on idea, and the rest is trivial. For the above example, if the implementation written in PHP and SQL Server is protected, one can copy the idea and re-write it in Python and MySQL. Thus, patenting code cannot protect the rights.
How to deal with ideas in computer software?