Well, I tried. I actually ended up liking Gnome 3, or at least Gnome 3.4. Yes, there were some rough edges and parts of it didn't work the way I wanted, but most of that I fixed using an extension. I was never 100% happy with things like application (alt-tab/` switching) but learned to live with it.
I'd switched to Gnome 3 almost everywhere except my living room (still on Debian Stable/Squeeze so running Gnome 2). Laptops and work workstation. Then it all went wrong ...
- Laptop - my primary laptop, a Thinkpad X220 (so pretty new), suddenly wouldn't load the full experience, insisting on "fallback" mode. OK I thought, I'll live with it and it will eventually fix itself with an update somewhere. This is Debian Testing and using Intel open-source drivers after all. But it wasn't fixed as long as I tried - for 2 or 3 months eventually. I started getting (sort of) used to "fallback". But this is clearly a crippled Gnome 2.
- Work system - Debian Stable using the nouveau NVIDIA driver. All is well for a couple of months, then - an update somewhere and boom. Now the desktop is locking up. Switching workspaces freezes it for 10-20 seconds, other desktop interaction similarly causes lockups or high loads. Basically unusable.
At work, I need a working desktop now and don't have time to wait or mess around. So I booted into XFCE and carried on.
So I set it up and configure it, and then realise that XFCE (pretty much) just works. In fact, it works much like Gnome 2. I also realise that I like the Gnome 2 style and notice all the papercuts that are no longer present.
I've now switched everything I run to the XFCE desktop and am both happy, comfortable and productive with it.
I may try Gnome 3 again in the near future, especially if and when v3.6 hits Debian, but thank goodness I have such a great choice of free software alternatives.