"I just want a system that A. works, B doesn't get in the way of my work."
That's why I use Gnome Shell. It does all of that for me. It's fast, clean and efficient for the way I use my computer. I accept it may not be for other people but I don't get why that causes so much hate, I really don't. It's fine. It's just a UI. I use loads of different UIs every day. They all have their issues, they all have their plus points. At least it's not TIFKAM (which is still fine, although a bit less fine). Not one of the non-techie people I've introduced to Gnome Shell have moaned about it, rather they're all commented on how nice and easy it is to use.
This whole "our way or the highway" is such nonsense. Of course that's what happens, someone makes a decision and things happen. You want something different? Fork away. Nobody's stopping you. Just like nobody is stopping you going to the Gnome or Ubuntu developer conferences, joining in the discussions on the mailing lists, proposing other solutions and so on. Eg: Gnome shell doesn't have a great StickyKeys notification system, so I wrote a specification for one, did some graphical mockups, posted a bug report, got a developer interested and it's happening. It's happening pretty much exactly how I wanted it to as well, which is nice. It's happening quite slowly, but then that's consistent with how much I'm paying for it. Which is nothing at all.
tl;dr - Get involved in the process, or stop whining about how you're not part of that process.