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Amazon will let anyone answer questions for Alexa

The Alexa Answers platform is now open to the public. What could go wrong?

Carrie Mihalcik Former Managing Editor / News
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Carrie Mihalcik
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Amazon wants Alexa to answer even more questions, with your help.

Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Amazon's Alexa doesn't know the answer to everything, but the company thinks you might be able to help with that. Amazon on Thursday publicly launched Alexa Answers, a crowdsourcing platform that lets anyone answer questions people ask the digital assistant.

The platform lets people search for and answer questions that Alexa doesn't already have an answer for. An example listed on the Alexa Answers websites is: "What is the state snack of Texas?" Amazon said this is one way to help Alexa answer even the most obscure questions, and it creates an opportunity for Alexa community members to help other customers.

People have to sign in to the Alexa Answers website with an Amazon account to see a list of questions available to answer. Amazon said they can filter questions by most frequently asked, newest or specific topic areas. 

When the digital assistant serves up an answer from Alexa Answers, it'll note the information is "according to an Amazon customer," reported Fast Company.  

The platform debuted by invite-only last year. Amazon said hundreds of thousands of answers from contributors have already been shared with Alexa customers millions of times.

Amazon said it has filters in place to prevent profane or offensive words and topics from surfacing in answers. Alexa Answers community members are also able to flag incorrect or inappropriate answers as well as vote specific answers up or down. 

"High-quality answers are important to us, and this is something we take seriously," an Amazon spokesperson said in an email.

Human editors as well as algorithms will also reportedly be involved in quality control. Bill Barton, the company's vice president of Alexa Information, told Fast Company that Amazon is focused on "Alexa as an objective, factual information source with this particular effort." 

Watch this: Our 5 favorite things to do with Alexa

Originally published Sept. 12, 8:36 a.m. PT.
Update, 12:52 p.m.: Includes additional information on Alexa Answers from Amazon.