There are plenty of ways to keep a desktop. On the one hand, it's kind of like your default folder, immediately displayed to you on login. It's a convenient place for those things you need quick, like dozens of shortcuts. On the other hand, it's a homescreen, a homescreen, and shouldn't you keep your home clean and pristine? After all, that's what the start menu/launcher is for.
I have zero icons on my desktop at the moment, and I consider that a point of pride. I definitely find that the joy of a clean desktop outweighs the minor convenience of having icons, but they always seem to start showing up unless I keep on top of it and get rid of that random backup folder, or those four files I needed to copy off that USB drive. Are you trying to keep that sucker barren? Succeeding, failing? Any desktop-icon apologists out there? Speak up, what's your number?