I agree that a two-class system of editors wouldn't be desirable. I think that the basic idea of an encyclopedia by the people for the people is great. But it seems that in the past few years there has been a considerable rise of exclusionism on WP (the English WP isn't the worst offender, I admit, but it's quite noticeable there, too). For me, one of the strong points of WP has always been the broad coverage of up-to-date and minor topics. This is what makes it a valuable resource for me; if I want the Encyclopedia Britannica I know where to find it.
But nowadays I notice that the notability guideline is wielded all to often in order to get rid of well-written and factually correct articles. This just destroys value; it adds nothing. Worse, it strongly discourages knowledgeable editors from contributing. Nothing is more frustrating than wasting a considerable amount of time on an article just to have it deleted a few days later.
WP needs to go back to its roots. For a start, I think that WP should just get rid of this silly notability guideline. IMHO it's better to err in favor of including a subject. There are other, more objective instruments to judge the quality of an article.
Why would this be any more of a problem? Academic authors ought to be able to cite research papers just like anyone else; in fact, they could even cite their own publications.
Have you actually tried? You cite your own (refereed) research papers, some smart-ass comes along and flags the article for deletion because it's not backed up by at least half a dozen third party sources and hence the subject is not "notable" enough.
IMHO (and in my own experience), that's the real reason why many academics stop contributing to WP. WP needs to change its policies (in particular, the notability guidelines) or find some other way to keep the deletionists at bay.