It makes me wish we could run a quick experiment where "trap" articles would be thrown on the front page with real-seeming headlines, usernames, and apparent votes, but no content at all, as a way to detect users who upvote without RTFA and discount their future votes.
The thing that was painful was betting on and fighting for your own vision of how something should play out. This requires selling like a mad man, fighting tooth and nail for your idea, which is scary as shit and very draining. Hopefully, it will lead to a better end product though. Either that or having wasted months of dev time and possibly missed the market window, and it's all on you.