I actually found during a recent fresh Jessie install that, while there is still plenty of cruft pulled in, it has been easier to peel away some of the crud (byebye avahi, and pulseaudio, may we never meet again) from GNOME than in the past. FWIW. The biggest problem with it right now is that there are no knobs to tune a lot of really retarded crap to "off" or if their are knobs, you have to hunt for them in obscure tweak tools or buried in a theme or in some pathologically treeified config database or in an "oh-there's-an-app-for-that" style "extension." It was much easier back when you had a chance in heck of finding what you were looking for by grepping
Why anyone would want disappearing scrollbars is a mystery to me. Why do they spend time on crap like that when they can't even let you move/disable the hot corner (which remains lurking in the top left to ambush you when you overshoot yourself on the way to the back button.) Instead you have to go find some extension off a site where you have to create an account to get anything, written by some guy who may or may not have the time to lockstep it with changes in the core, but probably not, so it's just going to break crap later if you install it and then some day in the future the time vampire will come by and drain another quart of your life essence fixing it again. Oh yeah, and the fact that it can't seem to fathom that you just may have more than one non-touch pointing device and just might want them set up differently.
Plus those stupid "toggle" switches are all over on gnome-shell menus where the tried-and-true checkbox would be nicer and more clear.
But at least the controls let you turn on emacs keybindings now without consulting google to find the gsettings variable. Damned if I will remember where a year from now when I get to reinstall, or that it will matter whether I do because by that time it will either have moved, or disappeared entirely.