I think Gnome 3 is the New Coke of the DE world. It wasn't so much that it was a horrible idea... taste tests seemed promising, and change is good, right? It just seems to be what happens when makers 'mess' with a product. Now that they've reintroduced Gnome 'Classic', (see where I went with the Coke thing?), people are simmering down a bit and reluctantly muttering, "Oh, well.... that's okay then, I guess. Watch it - we've got our eyes on you!"
Where it's nothing like New Coke is that the Gnome developers get to mess with the formula while they try to, (often unsuccessfully), balance needs and vision, (whose vision?). In this case, I think the vision preceded the needs department for a lot of people. I actually like the standard Gnome 3 interface, but I also see how it pissed a lot of people off... especially with earlier versions.