You know, it's funny, looking back at my first betta, Merlin, while we did some things wrong, we managed to accidentally get many things right too... at least as far as the betta was concerned. And even if our community tank was not "ideal" 17 years ago, we didn't have all these internet resources to tell us what was right and what was wrong.
I got Merlin, a little green/blue veil tail, and added him into an already existing 10gal community tank. It had a filter, was heated to 78*F and had more java moss than we knew what to do with (the stuff was an ever multiplying problem!). I kept him in a little breeder box that floated in the main tank that I used for my pregnant swordtails (as a 7-12year old, I bred them and sold them to friends :D ) and left him in there until he kept leaping out and into the main tank & we eventually gave up (it took about 2 months to realize that half of the time, he was leaping out, and the other half, my shark (which I will mention in a bit) was leaping in and pushing it down!).
Unfortunately, our tank was DEFINITELY not safely stocked, as far as stress for the fish goes. We had 2-4 neon tetras (at any given time... could never keep the little devils alive... they liked the filter too much), 2 zebra danios (one of which lived a STUNNING 11 years until he died, probably of causes relating to the tumour that bent his body in half), an endless host of chinese algae eaters and smaller breed plecos that never wanted to live, 2 painted tetras (one of which was a nasty little buggar (pardon the French, but I HATED him) who nipped at everybody's fins... until Merlin and Jaws (an iridescent shark) put an end to that habit, and 2 black skirt tetras. Oh, and platys and looots of swordtails (as I said, I bred them).
As you can see, we were waaaay overstocked, but nobody told us otherwise. Heck, had we known that iridescent sharks should be a meter-plus when full grown, I think my mother would not have agreed to get one (in the end, after about 7 years of less than 6inches in length, my mum decided that he was too big for the tank and took him to work, where he promptly (over about 3 weeks) grew from 6 inches to about 24 (100gal). But the betta was super happy; he lived about 6.5 years in that tank. All our fish lived long lives (except the neons and algae eaters/plecos) and we were none the wiser. Until I started research for a new betta (after 7 years of being tank-less).
I guess what I am trying to say is that education is key. We would have done things much differently had we known that we were torturing our fish with improper ratios and overstocking, and even inappropriate fish choices. I have made it my goal to educate my pet/fish store employees with what I have learned, and thus far, they've been pretty receptive to what I say (it's all in the approach (ie "oh, I hadn't heard that, I heard from a breeder of X that Y conditions are more ideal"). I feel that the knowledge I gain here deserves to be shared with others who, like I used to be, are misinformed and mal-educated.