Gnome 2, probably a much loved desktop till the date. It is both friendly and customizable. In the past I had posted a post Do We Really Need Gnome 2 Forks? I then emphasized on making the Fallback mode more usable to use like Gnome 2. But conditions are different now. Fallback mode will be no longer maintained, as in Fedora 17, Gnome Shell won't require 3D acceleration to work, and there will be no use for fallback mode.
So the Gnome 2 Fork called Mate seems to enlighten all those Gnome 2 fans. So much like Trinity was to KDE3 fans. Even some distros like Fuduntu, have resisted the change and forked completely to maintain the obsoleted. Obsoleted? Why you ask, but it is the truth, Gnome 2 is of no interest to its original developers now, it is abandoned, no new features will be there. If you can live with a static desktop with no new features, then it is for you. It is already very much stable and user friendly.
So why do some dislike Gnome Shell? Because there is a habit in us to resist change. And Gnome Shell was a massive change.
But back then, when Gnome Shell was first released, it was in its infancy, barely usable and difficult to customize. Now, everything has changed. It is beginning to get more and more features, and many new applications are being planned to be included in the Gnome 3 stack. Now we can even bring back the old Gnome 2 like experience using extensions. Some distros like Linux Mint are already trying to implement it.
So why should we still remain with Gnome 2? May be because we are accustomed to. But I'm in those persons who like to accept the change and adapt to it. I see the point why some don't want to switch, I also see the part they are missing. But whatever, I'm much more happy with Gnome Shell and it feels much snappier than Gnome 2 + Compiz did.