My point is/was that there was an assumption (that I and others had) built up after ten years that GNOME was catering to us as users and would never do exactly what it did. But the reality is that the assumption was flawed. It was wrong to assume the project would continue along the 2.x road with iterative stable releases based upon tried-and-tested technology. It's fine for the project to do whatever it wants *but* it has been a useful reminder that one should choose things such as a desktop wisely and after considering where the project wants to head. Now that I realize GNOME is willing to do what it has done I would never want to use it again.
At the moment, it seems that Xfce's goals are in line with what I want as a user: a really dull and boring desktop environment that will look roughly the same in 5 years from now and that I can rely on not to be overhauled in some subsequent release to take it in a radical new direction. But it is going to be important for me to review the goals of Xfce before I rely on it in the longer term. For now, it's an interim "quick, I need GNOME 2.x back" solution.