Heheh... no best practices as of yet, but that is the appeal of NodeBB. I (and I think the other admins and reps share our vision on this) really wanted NodeBB to be a "pick and choose" system to allow you to build a system you want to build, instead of what some other entity has decided.
I liken it to buying a computer. You could save time (and maybe money) by taking something off-the-shelf that a big box manufacturer as put together, or you could build the computer you want by picking the parts and assembling them together yourself.
As for best practices -- Node is really all about division of responsibility. Don't do things unless you absolutely have to do them, that sort of thing.
This is why:
Search is handled by Solr plugin
Avatars are handled by Gravatar
Emails are handled by Mandrill
Image uploads are handled by Imgur