You have a very valid concern. I think many people, myself included, would prefer if the default editor had more common formatting features, such as alignment, out-of-the-box.
First, my example wasn't meant to be entirely useful to anyone, it was just to show that, with some effort, basic text-alignment can be achieved without additional plugins. In reality, no one is ever going to use what I did, I'm under no allusion about that.
Now, I'm not NodeBB, and I can't speak for the NodeBB founders, so the rest of this is just my opinion of them.
NodeBB out-of-the-box does follow a very minimalist design philosophy, fitting in best with forums primarily consisting of text. The layout is closer to reddit than phpBB, and the editor is closer to Medium than Wordpress. I think this is very much in-tune with their
Modern Web tagline, and what draws many people to it.
This doesn't, necessarily, mean that it is less flexible. The founders have often expressed their desire to have plugins be an integral part of the NodeBB experience. NodeBB is very hackable, plugins can do anything you can imagine. The plugin is community is very large and supportive, and covers just about every feature you may want to add, despite being almost entirely hobbyist developers.
Even though the plugin community is strong, NodeBB has been very flexible with adding core features as well, catering to their user base, even if the the feature requested might violate their original minimalist design philosophy. Founders have repeatedly said that their Markdown plugin is intended only as a starting point and will only include basic Markdown syntax. But just recently, they changed their mind, due to increased demand, and we may be seeing more features added to the base plugins, despite there being user-made plugins that add these features. I'd say alignment is definitely one of the most requested features.
Basically, you're saying that if anyone wants to build anything besides a simple text forum they should look elsewhere?
You lost me here a bit. First, you're assuming because NodeBB looks like a simple text form, that users may think it is only a text forum. In this era, I don't think many people would immediately come to that conclusion. Take for instance Notepad++, my editor of choice. On the surface, this tool offers very little more than a basic ms Notepad. But it's power comes from an extensive plugin selection and passionate community, it's initial appearance as a basic editor is part of the charm for some and part of what draws newbies to it.
Your second assumption is that NodeBB does not want users to look elsewhere. I don't think this could be further from the truth. NodeBB wants users to compare all of their options and choose the best forum for there purposes. Giving users realistic expectations of why NodeBB is their best choice, or is not. This strategy would certainly garner a more loyal and passionate user base.
This is a crazy question, so I apologize, but what if I wanted to post something other than walls and blobs of text like -- an image? How would I center that?
Definitely not crazy. As I said initially, you have a very valid concern, and one I share. Alignment should be a part of the core, and it shouldn't be difficult.