It seems to me there is a simple solution:
Before a stable kernel is release, someone needs to verify that the patch performs its intended function. The kernel isn't released until each of the patch tests has been signed off. If no one care to test it, the patch is pulled out before release. This would motivate those that care about a particular patch to test it.
This doesn't guarantee there won't be regressions but it does let you know that someone is at least looking at the specific changes.
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