While you perhaps have some valid points, your presentation of those points seems a bit strong. For example, what constitutes these "Official" users you mentioned earlier? Are they limited to the folks that agree with you? And are all that do not Cartmans?
When LMDE started out, the testing repos were in use, and the warning was given that users should "expect some rough edges", and that a more advanced linux skill set would be required. No update packs, no safety nets.
Quite a few forum members then began "breakage" threads, and many others pitched in with answers to the great majority of questions asked in the LMDE forums. There's no lack of community answers here, and I've always felt that the forums here are some of the best. If you'd like, you can experience the other sort quite easily. Just go to the aptosid forum, and ask some mint related questions. Even in the debian forums, if you ask a mint question anywhere except in the "Offtopic" section, you may not find them quite so friendly.
Then came the Update Packs. Some people here thought they'd be great, and several others thought it was a waste of time - but even so, the members pitched in with help on incoming, and for the most part, the Update Packs helped those users who were having problems with testing. It also added to the workload, web site overhead, and so on.
Mint Debian has been discussed in one way or the other at least since version 6 (Helena) was out. I didn't pay that much attention at the time, but as each new version came from ubuntu, more problems developed and never got fixed. Worse with each version. I started paying more attention to the Mint Debian developments.
Clem and company have done a great deal of work on this project. It hasn't always been perfect, but the wishes of the users have been one of the driving forces in the Mint distributions. This fact alone has brought many of the users here. They actually have a say in the development. The Update Pack model is an example of this.
I will agree that it would have been better to have had more info from Clem and the team. I will also agree that updates are long overdue for those on Incoming or latest. The pages about the Update Packs should have been updated as the situation changed. However, as has already been pointed out, the dev team is pretty thin.
It's a good thing I'm not in charge of this distro - not only because I lack the skills to maintain it, but I would have shut it down by now if I were facing the sort of rants I've heard here as of late. Between the general dislike of gnome shell, and the complaints about Update Packs here, I think I might have decided on a different career path.
Clem and company have taken on a lot of extra work, trying to give everyone what they want. And that's BEFORE gnome shell came into the picture. Not to mention two base distributions, debian and ubuntu. Then add the different DE's. The problem with this is that NO ONE can give everyone everything that they want - it's impossible.
If you haven't done it already, take a look at Mint 12 "Lisa" to see what's been done with shell. That's the future for LMDE as well, and while I'm still not crazy about the shell, it's a huge improvement over the default. There's MATE, for those who can't abide leaving gnome 2.xx. And while it lasts, even fallback mode. Of course, you still have xfce, KDE and so on.
Too ambitious? Yes, I think so. I'd drop mate, for a start. Whether we like it or not, gnome shell is coming, and I'd spend my development time there. Change happens, and all there is to do is adapt. It won't be stopped. I can't wait to hear the screams when gnome 4 arrives. The Update packs would have to go too.
I can't code. I can't help much on the forums - I'm competent in Windows environments up to XP as a system admin, but still what I would call a "dangerous" user in linux. All I can do is donate, post an occasional answer here and there in the forums, and break stuff here to find out what works, what doesn't and how to fix it. If nothing else, I may be able to help someone else down the road. My original install is still running just fine, largely due the help found here and the good job of the Mint team. Perhaps you will volunteer to help fix the problems you've mentioned.
I'm going for the full ride with LMDE. If it got dropped, I'd have to switch over to debian. Like with microsoft windows, the day came when I knew I wouldn't be using ubuntu-based distros from that point forward. I for one hope this does not come to pass - I'd prefer to stay with LMDE.
Critique is fine, even needed for the success of the distribution. But when critique is presented in this fashion, it comes off as a rant. Valid points are lost. It may not have been your intention to come across as combative, but it appears to be the case in this instance, judging by some of the comments found here.
There are any number of ways to get what you want, outside of whatever the mint team may decide to send our way. Many of them have been shown to you in this thread. I would suggest that you make use of them.