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Hi Chris Wilson,
We use the ideation module for our company's internal innovation campaigns. I am working on a blog post related to this so thanks for the reminder to publish it!
Custom fields are a great option if you need to create a form for users to enter specific information in the idea. We use custom fields for our internal Hackdays and ask each person to enter their name and contact information. We can pull a report and see the data from the custom fields too!
W/r/t your questions.... As you mention, custom idea fields are a global setting. If you create new form fields they will appear across your entire community in all groups, spaces, and projects. This will not change any previous idea entries but it will change the fields for all ideas in your Jive instance. While we use custom fields for our Hackdays this disrupts all other communities using ideas. Other groups and spaces see the extra fields and tend to wonder why they are there. So we added "For Hackday Only" to the field text. We cannot make these required fields, but the option is available if you need it.
Please note: Custom idea responses do not save. You have to copy+paste all custom responses and update each idea. The work around would be to export all the data using the report and then post the spreadsheet. Otherwise, once you remove the fields the content is lost with it. We learned this the hard way.
I created two Jive Product ideas to improve the ideation module. Feel free to check them out and upvote if you agree.
Hope that helps!