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dpkg conffiles merging - request for status summary

Just to bring the uninitiated like me up to date about ways to upgrade changed 
dpkg conffiles, I would greatly appreciate if someone with insight could 
summarize the current status:

 + How emotional has the discussion on this topic been in the past?
   Scale: 0 (mostly technical) ... 5 (flamewars) ... 9 (new religion)

 + Are there some specific reasons why dpkg doesn't offer
   "merge interactively" in addition to "keep old", "install new",
   "show diff" and "shell" when  upgrading a package with changed conffiles
   or is it just a feature that nobody has tried to implement yet?

 + Does dpkg currently save the original conffiles somewhere to make 3-way
   merging possible?

 + If I understand correctly, "ucf" has some merging features. Can it be
   used as an alternative for dpkg's conffile upgrade interface or is it
   meant solely for postinst scripts?

 + I recently proposed using generic configuration file parser program(s)
   for editing and upgrading simple config files directly without saving
   the same options in many places at the same time. Have such tools been
   discussed and/or tried before in the Debian project?

 + I can program and find this problem interesting. Would some of you
   authors/maintainers of related tools appreciate help in developing
   configuration management features?

- Jarno

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