December 15, 2018

Amazon Begins Testing “User Contributed Answers” with Invitation-Only “Alexa Answers”

Note: We’ve asked Amazon for more info about the announcement below including questions about sourcing, verification, updating, etc. of an answer(s) that’s contributed by an Alexa user. Crowdsourcing answers is something many others including Google ,Yahoo, ChaCha have tried over the years. These services and many others are no longer being updated and/or available.

From Amazon.com:

While Alexa can answer the vast majority of questions customers are asking every day, every once in a while, customers throw curve balls at us with various questions like “Where was Barbara Bush buried?” or “Who wrote the score for Lord of the Rings?” or “What’s cork made out of?” or “Where do bats go in the winter?”

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.

Beginning today, via invitation-only, customers can add answers and information to Alexa through a new feature we call Alexa Answers. Those who receive an invite via email can start contributing answers to Alexa today. We’re excited to get Alexa customers involved. In the last month, through our internal Alexa Answers beta program, we’ve added more than 100,000 responses which have been given to customers millions of times.

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The Alexa Answers website allows invited customers to answer questions, asked by other customers, that Alexa currently does not know the answer to. Topics are varied and range from science to geography to music. Once on the website, customers can browse through topic categories, select a question that appeals to them, type their response, and click “submit.” After a customer submits the answer, the answer may be given to Alexa customers. Then, when the next customer asks Alexa the question answered by the community, Alexa will have access to that answer and can choose to respond by attributing the response to “an Amazon customer” before providing the answer.

Example questions customers may answer on Alexa Answers

  • How many birds migrate?
  • What is Juniper syrup?
  • Where is the most snowfall?
  • Where was the world’s largest wave surfed?
  • How long does it take for an ice cube tray to freeze?

Read the Complete Amazon Announcement

Update: Media Coverage via The Verge

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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