I look at it from another point of view..
NodeBB is more of a developer board and Discourse is popular and has more developers for consumer usage. Nodebb just isn't user friendly enough for changes for users just my 2cents.
Yes, that is the sad reality of it, is that we're not as large as Discourse nor do we have as much money, but I still feel we've come up with a competitive product that holds a candle to it.
The unfortunate part is that that last 10% to even out the rough edges requires money, or developers, and often both, and while we're around, many thing pull at us in many different directions
Seems to be an issue with many open source products in general...
Yep, Nodebb is great problem with it getting more people to use it is tied directly with the type of plugins/features available to users. Have you got statistics data on the type of person who uses this board of is it varied? I my self use mostly for gaming communities. So things like Discord/Steam integrations are hugely popular things. - Just a thought of focusing on the groups and making some popular plugins for attracting those users may help. I personally hate Discourse due to their docker wrapper. but thats me.