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There is a question on the main site whether trace amounts of onions can be harmful to pets. It's been closed as a duplicate of whether onions can be harmful in general despite the OP specifically referring to that question prompting his.

I understand the OP's reason for asking. If onions are harmful, does that mean I can't feed my dog any table scraps at all if they might contain even a hint of onion?

But despite it being worthwhile asking and different from the duplicate, John Cavan's comment points out that any answer would probably be too broad or opinion-based, so it would likely get closed for those reasons.

The question is, should we care whether this question is closed for the wrong reason as long as it is closed? I'd say yes, because closed questions serve the purpose of helping to define boundaries. Closing this one as duplicate, in my opinion, comes across as if we didn't actually engage with the question and closed it because it sounded vaguely like another question.

Closing it as too broad (because it'd be different for every dog) or opinion-based (because there might be no studies on the exact amounts per kg body weight) or even off-topic (because we allow general medical advice but not specific) show that we've really engaged with OP and his question.

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I believe it should stay closed as a duplicate.

I think whether the question is a duplicate is somewhat debatable. While I am leaning towards it not being an actual duplicate (the answer to the first question doesn't quite answer the closed question), I can see arguments of it being a duplicate because "no amount is safe" is a potentially valid answer.

As I see it, the real flaw in the closed question is that the answers will likely vary considerably depending upon the type of pet, the size of the pet, the overall metabolism of the pet, and countless other factors that can't reasonably be included in the scope of the question or answers.

What might be safe for one pet could easily kill another pet.

So the safest answer for our platform really is "no amount is safe", which lends weight to the closure reason being "duplicate".

There is another factor here to consider, too. When a question is closed as "too broad/primarily opinion based", it just sits there, and eventually gets deleted as part of cleanup. However, when a question is marked as duplicate, it remains as a pointer to the linked question. This is an important and beneficial function, and, in my opinion, sufficient justification for leaving the question closed as a duplicate, rather than re-opening it and picking a different close reason.

  • did you see the edited answer? – user87 Oct 24 '13 at 13:09
  • also I agree re if it gets closed as too broad and is edited back.. – user87 Oct 24 '13 at 13:09
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    I just saw the edited answer. Honestly, I would suggest that if you are going to vote for closure, its probably best to not post an answer. The idea of closing a duplicate is "this question already has answers here", so posting an answer to a question you think is a duplicate is making it less likely that someone finding the duplicate will see the answers on the original question. – Beofett Oct 24 '13 at 13:18
  • ok I'll redelete it.. that's what I was about to ask cheers – user87 Oct 24 '13 at 13:19
  • @Beofett I wasn't aware that only duplicates stick around and questions closed for other reasons get cleaned up eventually. If that's the case, then I fully agree with marking it as a duplicate, since my main reason for asking this is about the merit of a closed question being around. – ThomasH Oct 24 '13 at 13:45

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