GNOME 2 was very much agreed & accepted, people loved it. The disputes happened when GNOME 3 was created to be very different to the older GNOME 2. And GNOME 4 is just continuing the travesty.
MATE was the lightweight version of the GNOME 2 replacement, aka a "fork". Cinnamon was the heavyweight replacement.
GNOME 3 stopped the WIMP standard used by Xerox, before Apple popularized this. The official new version of GNOME 4 relies on the keyboard, at the cost of massive movements of the mouse and the trackball. One-handed cripples like myself no longer have the use of the two handed keyboard.
Canonical's Unity also appealed to these GNOME 3 rebels, who seemed to hate the WIMP protocol.
GNOME is now ignoring the landscape mode of most desktop screen displays. The top & bottom margins destroy the limited vertical spacing available to the display. They seem to prefer the letter box slit to become even more slitty. Usually my desktop displays have the top & bottom information bars set to "intelligent auto-hide". The better use of these important information bars are the left & right margins of the screen.
It was argued that both GNOME 3 and Unity interfaces were trying to prepare for the newer users on the vertical displays, the smartphones. Unity disappeared. GNOME was in danger of disappearing, until just one charity person gave one very large survival donation to keep it alive.
As it is now, Fedora seems to comply mostly to the standard GNOME interface. Most others including Canonical, make the standard much more WIMP like, more WIMPy. Keyboard fluency exists, but generally the WIMP standard is retained also, with the sub-windows having control icons on the sub-windows directly.
Of all the desktop environments, the official GNOME 4 is now the slowest & the heaviest. In terms of flexibility, the other desktops are far behind KDE.
For "prettiness" & GNOME 2 fidelity, Cinnamon seems to be the WIMP leader. KDE, XFCE, LXQT, LXDE, and others stay loyal to the WIMP protocol, which is friendly to non-keyboard use, and to screen displays of either letterbox (landscape) or portrait. GNOME 3 & 4 are boldly staying "controversial" & different.