Wow, I was thinking along quite similar lines, partly the reason why I opted to ask first. I'm glad you posted the links; it helped me organize my thoughts and added some different aspects I didn't immediately consider.
Having an area for people of a certain caliber does seem like the best compromise to me, even if it is somewhat elitist. And I agree that it should be based on merit, as opposed to post count. As I think, a certain type of member does seem less likely to plagiarize another person's work, perhaps largely because . Also, I think such a system still rewards the people who originally penned the papers, as it does not necessarily deprive them from the sorts of readers, thoughts, comments, and criticisms that they were likely seeking anyway by posting.
Now whether or not I qualify for this sort of area isn't really for me to say. I know the logistics would be tricky, but I'd strongly be in favor of some sort of system on the forums to figure this out (maybe a panel?). What do the rest of ya'll think about this?