[...] "I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked." [...]
I can agree to this to a certain extend. I am actively using Linux as my primary desktop since Linux 0.99pl14 came out. Having used/configured/compiled fvwm/olwm/olvwm/CDE/twm/piewm/wm2/AfterStep/Enlightenment 16-17/KDE1-4/GNOME1-3, thus I consider myself able to handle things quite well.
Whenever I (more recently, i.e. GTK2/GTK3) tried to install a new GNOME program I ended up updating my whole stack of applications breaking others on the way, having to fix them later on.
*This* never happened to me when upgrading or installing KDE programs. They are simply designed with a rather stable API and thus are much more forgiving of one not having the bleeding edge library "X" on ones system. Sure even KDE programs sometimes require one to update libs along the way, but the APIs for "older" programs seldom breaks.
So I can only agree with Miguel if he states that he needed to chase the proper package, which is, if at all, never available for your current distro (Murpy's law). But if GNOME (the project members) kept things more clean and stable instead of making major API changes while making minor library number upgrades the problem would never have occurred in the first place.