Amazon’s Alexa Answers was made public today after an invite-only period that started back in December of 2018. Alexa Answers implores Amazon users to contribute to the Alexa knowledge database “by responding to questions Alexa doesn’t know the answer to yet.” Amazon users are given “points” for their work in this program and put on leaderboards for the most-shared responses to questions through Alexa.
What is Alexa Answers?
Amazon’s Alexa Answers is a system through which Amazon gets customers to submit answers to questions that’ve been asked through their smart assistant system Alexa. Alexa gets smarter and the end user – the person speaking with Alexa – has a smaller chance of asking a question to which Alexa does not have the answer.
What do you get?
Amazon is making Alexa smarter using human work – human answers to human questions, for and by Amazon Alexa fans. Through a system of “points” and “leaderboards”, Amazon made this system feel like a game. Amazon made it a point of pride to be the best, most knowledgeable person in the Alexa Answers program. This system also awards badges to users for submitting answers to questions to which Alexa would not necessarily already have an answer.
“Once you’ve submitted an answer,” said an Amazon representative today, “You’ll be able to earn points toward monthly and weekly leaderboards, and badges based on how many questions you’ve answered, how many times your answer has been shared with Alexa customers and more.”
How is this different from social media?
There are parallels between social media work and work with Alexa Answers, to be sure. The same can be said about systems like Google Maps Local Guides, a system where users get similar digital notifications of how their work is used by other humans. Google Maps Local Guides also provides real-world benefits from time to time, like “free movie tickets” and such.
But are digital “badges” and “rewards” enough compensation for humans to provide this data-based value to Amazon and the Alexa information system? Per an Amazon representative today, “Customers have told us how they have enjoyed contributing responses through Alexa Answers.”
Amazon’s Alexa Answers was originally launched in December of 2018 “by invitation only,” and this week goes public. All interested parties are free to participate starting this week.
UPDATE: Amazon was in touch after this article was originally published and disputed the characterization of Amazon Answers, but declined to comment further.