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We had the question Beef dripping - how long can it safely be kept for in the fridge. I closed it as a duplicate, because the fact that these are beef drippings is immaterial to the question - beef and pork drippings behave the same food safety wise, and we have at least three questions which discuss the shelf life of pork drippings with the slightest differences.

The OP wants the question to be reopened, because we have the rule which is shortly expressed as "if the answers are the same, this does not make the questions duplicates".

Should we apply the rule in this case and reopen?

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My position is that we still should not reopen. The guideline does not say that questions with the same answer are never duplicates, it says that the fact that two questions have the same answer is not sufficient to say that they are duplicates.

We don't want to have tons of questions which have some apparent difference, when the difference does not matter and both questions describe the same problem. This has been a Stack Exchange policy since the infamous "programming on a boat" example. Here on Cooking, we have had hundreds of questions about leaving meat at unsafe temperatures. Frankly, if we decided to accept each of these questions as a different one, and not close a "left out steak for 16 hours on the counter" as a duplicate of "left out roast for 17 hours on the table", I think the site would lose much of its value as a focused provider of information.

Now, I understand how a person who does not know the general lines of food safety cannot know that the animal source of the drippings is not a factor in the keeping time. The OP can reasonably have assumed that his or her question could get answers different from the pork drippings questions.

But somebody who comes here to ask the community for an answer obviously assumes that they know less about the topic than our community. So it is our call to judge whether there is a factual difference between this question and old ones, or not.

It is true that I closed this question alone, as happens so often, because we don't have enough active members with sufficient reputation to cast close votes. In this case, I felt knowledgeable enough about the topic to be certain that there is no real difference between the beef and pork dripping questions. And there will be no value in information content gained either for the site or for the OP if we leave the question opened.

If somebody feels that my knowledge is wrong, and there is a difference between pork and beef drippings storage time, please vote for reopen and explain your reasoning here. Also, if somebody thinks that my interpretation of the rules, as outlined in this answer, is wrong, please join the discussion.

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    A possible solution here - assuming all meat-dripping safety questions can be answered the same way - is to just edit one to generalize it to "meat drippings" rather than "beef" or "bacon". Then point the more specific questions at it so that folks like pm_2 can find their way to the answer. – Shog9 Feb 22 '14 at 6:43
  • Fat is fat, and fat with tiny bits of meat in it is fat with tiny bits of meat in it. Storage time for all cooked meat is the same, therefore there's no difference between beef or pork because there are no ingredients other than fat and tiny bits of cooked meat. I think it's actually important that we keep this one closed, not because the person who asked it did anything wrong, but simply because reopening it would erase a precedent that we've worked very hard to create relating to the preponderance of food safety/storage questions. – Aaronut Feb 27 '14 at 1:47
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I don't normally get involved in meta discussions; however, in this instance (and since I was the OP) I felt I should at least re-state my case. Just to give a quick disclaimer before I start; the answer that was given to my question was sufficient.

As @rumtscho has stated, my question arose from a lack of anything but a very basic knowledge of food and cooking (that is, I know how to cook some things, and vaguely speaking I know where food comes from).

The reason I felt this question was not a duplicate is this: a duplicate question (to me) is a question that I could have searched Stack Exchange for, and found another question which sufficiently resembled my own.

Fundamentally, I would need to know that beef and pork dripping could be treated in the same way. This seems an incredibly specific and detailed piece of information to expect a casual cook to know; and here's why:

I cook a fillet stake for 2 - 3 minutes each side and eat it. That comes from a cow (like beef dripping) and it's perfectly safe to eat. If I cooked a pork steak for the same amount of time and ate it, I imagine I would spend a week in hospital. That comes from a pig (like bacon grease).

Essentially, this feels like expecting the OP to know the answer to their own question before asking.

  • I think here the real issue at hand is whether we have guided you to the correct answer to your question, as asked. In this case, by marking it as a duplicate, Rumtscho pointed you to the relevant question, and got you to the correct answer, so your goal on the site was achieved. It isn't whether you knew a priori there was a duplication, but rather that the answering community did. – SAJ14SAJ Feb 22 '14 at 19:59
  • Your concern is valid, but your definition of a duplicate is not actually correct. Closing as a duplicate isn't a punishment, it's not us scolding you for failing to search, it's just, as @SAJ14SAJ says, a quick way for us to take you (and future visitors) to the answer rather than creating a new and identical set of answers. Typically a question is considered a duplicate if all possible answers to that question could also be answers to the "parent". It's not a duplicate if only some answers would apply, but in this case all of them did. – Aaronut Feb 27 '14 at 1:44

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