Greg and I have been testing a podcast for community professionals.
It's not right for mass-consumption yet, but that didn't stop several of you finding it on iTunes and giving us feedback.
That's a neglected power of building a community. You can quietly launch ideas in stray areas of the site (or anywhere on the internet) and a few of your members will undoubtedly find it.
This lets us test out a dozen or so ideas a year to get a feel for whether: a) we can sustain the practice of producing the idea and b) whether the idea is a good fit for our audience.
We've tested out best practice e-mails (meh), bulk book sales (big fail), meet the experts (success), live scheduled webinars (works well), sudden impromptu webinars (bit awkward), mentoring sessions (sometimes works), whiteboard sessions (tough to produce) and maybe a dozen other ideas over the years.
If you want to introduce a new idea, don't do it on the landing page or the discussion area. Do it on another page few members visit. Get feedback. Adapt or kill the idea.
It's a lot easier to quietly test an idea, notice it doesn't work, and remove it than to launch something big and watch it flop. Many flops can be turned into future successes with the right feedback. You just have to launch them quietly.
On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?