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Answer Guidelines


Answer Guidelines

Writing for Alexa Answers

When you contribute to Alexa Answers, your knowledge has the potential to reach and help a lot of people. To write the most helpful answers, it’s important to consider how Alexa Answers is different than other question and answer sites you may be familiar with. Here, the people that are helped most are those that will hear your answer spoken by Alexa.

What sounds good written down does not always translate well to voice. These guidelines are meant to provide tips for what makes a great answer for Alexa, what to avoid, and how to evaluate and rate other answers on the site.

Anatomy of a good answer

A good answer contains the following pieces:

  • Confirmation - rephrase at least part of the question, to demonstrate understanding and reinforce the answer.
  • The Actual Answer - Provide the facts or explanation that answers the question.
  • Bonus Content - If applicable, provide additional information that gives more context to the answer.

For example:

Who won the first super bowl?

The first super bowl was won by the Green Bay Packers who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35 to 10 on January 15, 1967

This answer rephrases the question:

“The first super bowl was won by…”

This answer provides the fact that answers the question:

“…the Green Bay Packers…”

This answer provides relevant bonus content and context:

“…who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35 to 10 on January 15, 1967…”

Good Answer Tips

Good answers are a complete, direct response.

Good answers respond directly to the question rephrasing the question back in a grammatically correct complete sentence.

Good answers make sense when read out loud.

Alexa will speak your answer to users that ask the same question. The answer should make sense when read out loud. Use “Hear it” to check how your answer sounds before submitting.

Good answers provide bonus content and context when it is helpful.

Sometimes additional context is helpful especially for questions that might have more than one right answer or require additional information to make sense.

Good answers are appropriate for all ages and backgrounds

Good answers do not use adult language or sensitive subjects in your answers and do not include divisive language or biased messages that are be inappropriate for an Alexa user audience.

What to Avoid

Answers that are too short.

One word answers are too often short for users to understand and they should be avoided.

Answers that are too long.

If an answer is too long, an Alexa user may ask Alexa to stop speaking before the answer is finished. Use the “Hear it” feature to check the length of your answer.

Answers that are too opinionated.

Answers that unnecessarily include opinions may not be helpful to Alexa users in search of a factual response.

Answers that contain unhelpful attribution or additions.

Answers that contain self promotion or unhelpful attribution like URLs, may confuse, rather than help, Alexa users.

Answers that use too much jargon.

Alexa’s answers should be understandable by all users, not just experts. Avoid using jargon or overly technical language in your answers.

Answers that use abbreviations and parentheses.

Abbreviations and parentheses may make sense in written language, but not when read out loud. Use “Hear it” to check how your answer sounds before submitting.

Answers that use ALL CAPS.

Using ALL CAPS can be perceived as yelling ad the user.

Answers that contain a question.

Answering a question with another question or attempt to clarify what the user is asking can be confusing and should be avoided.

How to Rate Answers

Community members can use star ratings to provide feedback on answers. Star ratings provide other contributors with feedback on their answers and help Alexa decide which answers to share. Answers are rarely completely perfect or totally unhelpful. By using a 5 point scale, star ratings give community members a range to decide how good (or bad) and answer is. This range can be a little confusing at first, so we’ve provided examples of what “exceptional”, “ok”, and “poor” answers often look like.

5-star answers

These are examples of “exceptional” answers. 5-Star answers satisfy and delight Alexa users. They are the right length of response and fully answer the question.

What’s the capital of France?

The capital of France is Paris.

This answer is appropriately brief and direct. It rephrases the question and provides an answer quickly.

Who won the first super bowl?

The first super bowl was won by the Green Bay Packers who defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35 to 10 on January 15, 1967

This answer provides an answer quickly along with helpful bonus facts that are directly relevant to the question.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

There is no consensus as to whether a hot dog is a sandwich or not. Some consider the hot dog to be a type of split roll sandwich. Others consider the hot dog to be in a category of its own and not part of the sandwich family.

This answer recognizes that the best response to the question is complicated and additional context is necessary to provide a satisfying answer.

What’s the fastest animal?

The fastest animal is a peregrine falcon, which can reach speeds of up to 240 miles an hour when it dives for prey.

There are different categories of fastest animal such as, fastest land animal, fastest flying animal, or fastest diving animal. It’s not clear which this question is asking for so this contributor provided one answer making sure to include bonus facts that help to explain the definition of “fastest animal” they are answering.

3-star answers

These are examples of “ok” answers, though not perfect they are still helpful. A 3-star answer is an answer that provides a decent response to a question but could be improved.

What’s the capital of France?

Paris is the capital of France. 12.5 million people call Paris home. It is also home to such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower and the Notre-Dame cathedral.

This answer is too long and its bonus content doesn’t directly relate to the question. It is still helpful but making it shorter would improve it.

Who won the first super bowl?

The Green Bay Packers won the first super bowl.

This answer is too brief. It directly answers the question but could provide more context for a satisfying answer. It is still helpful but adding the date of the super bowl or what other team played would help improve this answer.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

A hot dog is considered a sandwich by some.

This answer brief and direct but it does not address the complicated nature of the question. It is still helpful but additional research and context would improve the answer.

What’s the fastest animal?

The answer depends on animal locomotion. The fastest self-propelled land mammal is the Cheetah which can reach speeds of 69.5 miles per hour. The fastest animal utilizing gravity assistance is the peregrine falcon, which can reach speeds of up to 240 miles an hour when it dives for prey.

This is a very thorough answer to this question, however it uses jargon and technical terms that may not be easy for all Alexa users to follow. It’s still helpful but could be improved by simplifying the language.

1-star answers

These are examples of “poor” answers. 1-star answers provide little helpful or satisfying information but are not bad enough to flag.

What’s the capital of France?

Paris

This answer is one word and not a complete sentence. Though it contains the right fact it is not a full response.

Who won the first super bowl?

1967 Superbowl: G.B. Packers vs. K.C. Chiefs. Final Score: 35 - 10 (Green Bay)

Though it contains all the right information, this answer is not a sentence and it uses abbreviations and parenthesis that may not be easy to understand when read out loud.

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Official hot dog fact: A dog is not a sandwich.

This answer uses a misleading phrase to make the answer seem more official. It may confuse more than help.

What’s the fastest animal?

The fastest animal is a housecat when you use a can opener, jk, it’s a cheetah, lol.

While humor and personality can be delightful, this answer has too much at the expense to of the real answer. It is more of a joke response than a helpful response and does not provide as much factual information and context as it should.

When to Report an Answer

Some types of answers are unacceptable and should be reported using the flag action on answers.

Inappropriate answers

Answers whose content violates our Community Guidelines and Amazon’s Conditions of Use are unacceptable and should be flagged. These include but are not limited to answers that are offensive or inappropriate, answers that promote medical or legal advice, answers that are mean, insulting or combative, and answers that are intentionally misleading, biased, or contain misinformation.

Incomprehensible answers

Answers that are completely incomprehensible or unintelligible should be flagged.

Incorrect or irrelevant answers

Answers that are incorrect, or irrelevant, including joke responses to serious answers, should be flagged. These answers will remain visible on the site but will no longer be shared with Alexa users.

Spam and promotional answers

Content and activities consisting of advertising, promotion, or solicitation are unacceptable and should be flagged.