The more you can get people to specialize, the more valuable your community will be.
The problem is many communities inadvertently encourage the opposite. People extort more favorable opinions of popular ideas to reinforce their perceived commitment to the group.
Yet the most popular ideas typically began on the fringes. They begin with people specializing in some small, obscure, or disregarded area of the field.
As Sloman and Fernbach discovered, specializing is what drives groups forward. It’s what yields the most value. You don’t need more people discussing the future of your field, you need an army of people each testing some whacky idea and reporting back what happened.
Sometimes, just the right note of encouragement at the right time can yield really remarkable results. This is why discussions, where people can suggest ideas and explain what they’re working on, can be so powerful.
You can follow up with each of them with encouragement, opportunities to promote them later in the community and do everything you can to foster as much specialization as possible.
If you even manage just a couple of people a week to pursue something unique, interesting, and with potential, you will be doing an incredible service for your community.