In the early days of BrainReactions' Brainstorming Tool I decided to test the site by posting the following challenge: How can you stop people urinating in public swimming pools? One of the responses was "Cut off their dicks". Now, I suppose flippant responses could be viewed as irritants, but the interesting thing is that BR brainstorming forum doesn't suffer from the problem that many forums suffer from: lack of posts. There seems to be a steady rate of new challenges and suggestions.
Any brainstorm can benefit from a wide range of responses ranging from the outrageous and ridiculous to the sensible. The outrageous suggestions (or challenges) surely help to reduce the inhibitions of new posters..."If others are clowning then my own ideas won't seem so ridiculous". It helps to keep the posts and suggestions flowing.
To help a forum maintain its momentum I reckon that answers to brainstorms could be made within six categories: standard, outrageous, two/three word only, two/three word outrageous, redefining the problem and magical solutions. Here are some examples of the six-categories approach used with the above problem:
Standard - add dye to the water that changes colour when someone urinates
Outrageous - make offenders drink chlorinated water
Two/three words - Life bans
Two/three words outrageous - Name and shame
Redefining problem (using "why and why again" technique) - Why do you want to solve the problem? Because swimmers will know that the water is clean and healthy. New problem = how can we ensure (and make patrons aware) that the water is clean and healthy?
Magical solutions - Create organisms that eat pollutants
I'm sure that more categories could be devised; naturally, one would have to be mindful of the KISS rule (Keep It Short and Simple) to avoid overcomplicating things.
A lifespan for responses
It could also be worthwhile giving posters the option to state the lifespan of responses: maybe a poster could opt for their response to 'die' after 24 hours? Thus the clowns could go on clowning with impunity :)