This paper addresses the challenges of explaining the behavior of porous carbons in cutting-edge applications related to energy storage, catalysis, photocatalysis, and advanced separation based on reactive adsorption. It is a summary of the outcomes of the extensive discussion which took place during the workshop “Beyond Adsorption-II: new perspectives and challenges for nanoporous carbons,” organized as a satellite event to the International Carbon Conference on July 20th , 2019 in New York. It is not our intention to provide a tutorial on the applications, characterization or performance testing of porous carbons; we would rather like to focus on the controversy of the results and phenomena, on the explanation of findings, and on raising concerns to the growing carbon-researching scientific community about the importance of understanding the features of nanoporous carbons by choosing an appropriate characterization technique that will bring meaningful information. We want to emphasize that nanoporous carbons have unique features ensuring them making a marked advance in science and technology. Even though recent studies have shown their potential in various emerging applications, the origin of such performance is not yet well understood. Thus, scientists are encouraged to focus on a precise characterization of porous carbons using a set of complementary techniques for triggering future technological developments.