How about voting by those gifted with the powers to front page articles? I believe already that one must approve an article for submission, then another must front page it, but why not require 3 front page votes for it to be posted to the front page? This may reduce some of the articles that make it to the front page that probably don't really need to be there.
++ Interesting idea, it seems like this point might have gotten lost in the rest of your message, so I just wanted to highlight it for discussion.
The problems that I see with this would be that 1) It increases the time required for a new post to become front-paged, and 2) It would only work if you were constantly changing the number of votes required to front-page to n+1 (where n is the number of people who front-page articles without actually reading them). You'd need to be constantly changing n as people came or left (or adjusted their front-paging attitudes).