GNOME 1.x was really great. It was fairly configurable while still being relatively easy to use and did what I (as a developer) needed. Current day GNOME looks like it borrows from the worst of Windows (the stuff even the Windows folks don't even like), and only recently adopted a few things that the Mac does (possibly because Windows copied some of it) but in some weird way that lost all of the intent behind the actions. So we end up with something that's simple but still not understandable because it's confusing and weird, and consequently useless to just about everyone. I managed to get by fortunately because they had an alternate window manager that was a bit more traditional.
Don't get me wrong, I still think the Linux community is amazing and love the fact that it all exists. But for GUI, not only have they lost sight of the Unix Philosophy, they also don't really have a good view of who their /actual/ users are.