As expected, Amazon’s user-submitted answers are kind of garbage
Of course they are.
Alexa Answers rolled out a few months back and, as expected, the results haven’t been the greatest. In a new report by VentureBeat, the outlet looks at the crowdsourcing platform and if it actually does a good job at answering questions.
Not surprisingly, the results are a mixed bag and Amazon’s point system that is supposed to make good user answers rise to the top isn’t doing a great job at it.
Alexa Answers is full of issues and wrong answers
According to the report, questions can result in drastically different answers depending on the exact wording used when asking the question. For example, “Why are cows bad for the environment?” can give multiple answers (Amazon says it will rotate answers if there is not a clear winner), which is pretty sketchy to begin with, but then changing the wording to “Are cows bad for the environment?” results in no answer.
VentureBeat notes that a variety of answers were (not all at the same time) inappropriate, threatening, defamatory, invasive, and just plain wrong. Take, for example, a question about how safe it is to eat batteries. The uneducated among you may believe that the answer is obvious, but Alexa Answers wants you to know that it is ok – as long as you don’t eat too many. TMYK.
I’m not sure what Amazon expected to come from user-submitted answers, crowdsourcing answers for questions is just a terrible idea when one of the goals of a smart assistant is to accurately answer questions. Amazon is supposed to warn you that questions answered through the program are “According to an Amazon customer” at the beginning, but VB noted that even that didn’t always work, so that’s cool.
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