I submit to you that people hacking on Gnome off in their own corners is what brings the coolest, new things to Gnome. The way I see it, the atmosphere behind thinking to create a “functional, stable release” is more focused on current features. Gnome needs both free spirits and “stabilizer” people…
Just to clarify, I don’t think that people hacking off in their own corner on cool new features and such is a bad thing- this is often how innovation happens, and we need more of that, not less.
What I was worrying about (sorry I wasn’t clear) was when an entire company goes off and stabilizes/bugfixes/backports on their own fork of a stable/deadish branch. [Something that Ximian has been quite guilty of in the past.] Most of those fixes end up being lost to the trunk, and the companies end up wasting a lot of time backporting that could have been more productively spent stabilizing the trunk. And the companies throw away the QA benefits of sticking closer to the trunk as well. The community could benefit a lot from that effort going into trunk, I think, and so could the companies, if it was structured right- they’d get more functionality, faster, with better/broader QA and less waste.