Amazon is now crowdsourcing answers for Alexa through the new Alexa Answers program. This program is meant to fill in the gaps in the assistant’s knowledge so users will no longer get the “Hmm, I don’t know that one” answer. This new program was first mentioned by Amazon in December on Amazon’s blog.
“Now, in addition to advanced technology — such as machine learning and natural language understanding—and our many trustworthy information sources, we’re involving the Alexa customer community to help us answer questions Alexa can’t quite answer yet,” Amazon said.
Back then, the program was invitation only. Now it has been opened to the masses. Anyone can sign up using the Alexa Answer site and participate using their Amazon profile or anonymously. From there, you look for unanswered questions, give the question an answer, click Submit and Alexa will then use that answer when people ask that particular question. Question categories include history, science, literature, and music.
Every time their answer is used, Alexa Answer members gain points. They can also gain points from daily bonus questions. Points can be used to unlock achievements and allow users to compete for top contributor status.
Conceivably, this could be a fertile dumping ground for trolls that want to befuddle Alexa users. This is particularly troubling when one considers that children use Alexa for school projects and homework. There are some safeguards in place, though. The system filters out answers that includes, “obscene, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy, or infringing of intellectual property rights (including publicity rights),” according to the FAQs section of the site. Users can also flag answers that are wrong or offensive. Flagged answers won’t be used and won’t be visible on the Alexa Answers site. Alexa users will also be notified that an Amazon user provided the answer.
Alexa users will be able to judge the usefulness of an Alexa Answers question, as well. After the answer is provided, users can say if the answer was useful or not. If the answer gets enough nos, it is removed.
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