Open data offers immense opportunities for ecologists and evolutionary biologists. The more good quality data are available, the more questions can be answered—and at broader spatial and temporal scales and at greater taxonomic generality. However, making use of open data is far from straightforward. At this year’s SORTEE conference, Rose Trappes and Alfredo Sánchez-Tójar co-organized a productive unconference to tackle this complex topic. For that, they invited three experienced panellists: Matt Grainger, Antica Culina and Benno Simmons, and held a discussion about the opportunities and challenges of data reuse and data synthesis in the fast-moving world of open data.