I used GNOME as my primary desktop environment for almost a decade starting with 2.4 on Fedora Core 1. I watched as many features I cared for were either hidden or removed for simplicity's sake, but I kept with it because for the most part I could restore the features with minimal hassle and I liked the overall look & feel. I even put up with early GNOME 3 as I felt 3.4 & 3.6 were progressively improving. However by 3.8 I was getting fed up of having to constantly figure out how to restore features I want, and I had absolutely no interest in running systemd just to run a damn GUI. I had enough, jumped to XFCE4 and have it customized to a very similar setup to GNOME 2 and have been very satisfied.
It takes a lot to alienate someone who has used the same software for a decade, but they've managed to it. I felt like each released "dumbed" the product down more and more and I kept thinking to myself that old saying, "If you make something idiot proof, someone will just make a better idiot". I don't know what kind of consumer they want to attract, but apparently I'm no longer it.
At least with Debian, the default desktop doesn't necessarily mean much as it's quite simple to install an alternative.