@trevor It's funny, but the last time I took Discourse for a spin and dug around to see what I had to do to theme it, I found I had to store images in a thread on the forum. That's right. You store your Discourse theme images in a forum thread. And working with Docker is a real pain, even though it's supposed to make running Discourse easier.
Despite those issues, I do like Discourse's fixed-width design, NodeBB's full-width design is only good until up to 1000px or so, then it really needs a max-width attribute or I have a hard time with it, especially on my 1080p monitor. I know about the super hidden button on the bottom right to change it to fixed-width too, but that isn't very useful because the homepage looks awful at whatever that button sets the width to. And it's not intuitive to click that button because you'll never known it's there until you accidentally mouse over it one day or someone here tells you. That's when a design has failed, it's when things aren't intuitive.
Discourse also takes 3-5 seconds to show anything the first time you visit a Discourse forum after the DNS resolves. You just sit there spinning for a bit on a blank white page. Really irritating to me, but they're working on that.
Notifications in NodeBB are also pretty messy as well, especially if you're following several people, because you get this:
I think a lot of those could have been truncated into "User made 5 new posts" and then you could click to expand or view a page like the Unread tab listing those posts the user made, or something. And it's not just with new posts either, watched topic notifications are just as messy.
Anyway, I think when it comes down to it NodeBB is definitely better than Discourse. I like the stuff Discourse is doing and it does feel more refined, but the setup + VPS requirements just aren't worth it. I think NodeBB could use some inspiration from that project in some areas though.