Ecological knowledge is being transformed by increasing use of distributed experiments performed by large investigator groups to answer regional- and global-scale questions. The success of large collaborations emerges from setting a tone and rules of play that build and reinforce trust. These include clear expectations for data collection and sharing; effective data management; a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive environment; face-to-face interactions; and meetings with a flexible, discovery-focused agenda. NutNet has particularly innovated with the publication pipeline to ensure intellectual contributions from all co-authors. Large collaborations generate unprecedented opportunities for new insight, but long-term success requires soft skills and new considerations.