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For the most part, options are either useful or they're really not, except for really, really advanced users who want to customize everything on their entire desktop.
I think there are two (three) kinds of options:
1. Basic, useful, used often. This is the usual stuff, the homepage of your webbrowser, font size etc.
2. Matter of taste, seldomly used but nevertheless useful. This is stuff you change once and then never again. e.g. I haven't touched much of my pretty extensive KDE customizations since the early 3.0beta days.
(3. Advanced system configuration stuff; used not too often, but it's nevertheless important to offer a graphic config tool for it. IME it's much easier to tell a non-expert over the phone how to change stuff in the third submenu, second tab, than to get them to open anything that looks like a command-line. For this kind of stuff gconf is sufficiently "GUIy", more buttons and less text wouldn't hurt though. =)
Imho, developers should try to split their options in categories 1 and 2, and put those in 2 in an "advanced tab", or in an advanced dialog (see advanced settings in the Windows display settings; I need them quite often, I'd be really pissed if I had to edit the registry for this kind of stuff, but I acknowledge that it's just too advanced to put it in the main dialog)