@scottalanmiller Thanks for all your help, you have cleared a lot of my doubts.
Are you planning to actually use NodeBB inside or as a base for your larger application?
The main product would be a marketplace platform where users would buy and sell services. Since they would be logged into the website, I also want a forum for them to interact with each other and have discussions. Based on how helpful they are to other users, they will accumulate karma/reputation. That karma would in turn be shown alongside their service listings on the platform, which will help them gain new customers for their services. Would such a system require the forum to be 'coupled' with the rest of the program?