The thing is, Gnome is focused on an idea of "user experience." What's implicit in this pursuit is their mental model of the user. Who is Gnome for? Well, if you're reading HN, it's probably not for you. They're making it pretty clear that if you're an old school linux person, if you like customization ability, if you like options, then you're not the user they have in mind. For those of us who are not "the users they're looking for," we have to be ok with that, accept that's what they want to do, and make our choice accordingly: we can suck it up and use it anyway, we can use something else, or we can fork Gnome.
At the same time, I suspect that they don't really know what they're doing, and the "user" in their "user experience" is largely illusory; the product of the imagination of a few Gnome designers. They seem prepared to double down on this concept though - I think this is the only explanation possible of their arrogance in the face of widespread denunciation from almost every corner of the traditional linux community, including typically scathing flames from Linus. The Gnome people seem to feed on this negativity, like it's validation of their plans. "It is not for you, it is for 'them'" - whoever "they" are.
I wonder if their concept of who they're targeting as users couldn't be boiled down to a fairly basic distinction: traditional linux stuff is for people who enjoy using computers, and Gnome is designed for people who don't. Or put another way: people who use computers, versus people used by computers - the latter group belonging to a sort of corporate mindset.
Regardless, this mindset is being taken to far in its application to GTK, which for a large number of reasons should not be taken as simply another part of Gnome. It leads to almost a Kubuki Theater situation in which Gnome devs try to push around apps like transmission, which merely uses GTK, to fit into their Gnome user paradigm, while pretending nothing else exists. "I have never heard of XFCE" - come on.
Perhaps it is the 'old school Linux' people who provide much of the voluntary input to open source projects. Perhaps the younger ones who like shiny shiny just buy Apple and set up a terminal to their Linode. Perhaps not good for long term health of the project?